'tis the season to think maple. granted, this is not vermont, it's illinois. nor is it autumn, it's winter. but our native illinois maple trees are noteworthy, especially now, when the sap is rising and maple trees bring the promise of spring.
A taste of maple goodnessWant to learn more about maples and the process of making syrup? Check out these events.
March 2 and 3: The trees are the focus of Maple Sugaring Days, set for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3 at Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve, 41W600 Hughes Road, Elburn. There will be maple tapping demonstrations, and you can try your hand at drilling with an old-fashioned bit and brace. Watch sap simmer over an open fire, practice making spiles from sumac twigs, and of course, there will be maple syrup to taste. Naturalists with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County will lead hikes through the woods, interpreting the natural history of maple trees and the changing ecological landscape. Info: Call (847) 741-8350 or email email@example.com.
March 2, 3, 9, 10: McHenry County Conservation District's Festival of the Sugar Maples is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. over two weekends -- Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3 and 9-10 at Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo. Visitors can hear how maple syrup was made hundreds of years ago, discover how maple trees produce sap each spring, learn how sap is collected from the trees, and see how syrup is made at the evaporator house. Tours leave every 15 minutes and involve a half-mile hike over uneven terrain. Free. Info: mccdistrict.org.
March 11: Go beyond the typical maple syrup making demonstration and enjoy a sweet spring experience at McHenry County Conservation District's Maple Boil -- Making Syrup and Sugar from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at Coral Woods Conservation Area. In this hands-on program for adults, participants will be actively involved in finishing a batch of maple syrup in the evaporator at Coral Woods. Participants will attempt to continue the process a step further to create maple cream and maple sugar candy. The registration deadline is Wednesday, March 6, and program fee of $5 for county residents and $6.25 for nonresidents must accompany registration. Registration is accepted online at MCCDistrict.org, and by mail or walk-in at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779.