Sweet! Maple sugaring festivals return to Fox Valley this weekend
The flowing of maple sap is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Learn how maple syrup is made, and maybe even try your hand at tapping a tree, at one of these Fox Valley festivals.
Maple Sugaring Days
• Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3
• LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles
• Free; call (630) 444-3190 or visit www.kaneforest.com.
Bring your family and friends out to learn the time-honored tradition of maple tapping. Forest Preserve District of Kane County naturalists will show how to tap a maple tree, and you'll have the opportunity to try your hand at drilling and setting your own tap.
Explore the art, science and folklore of the "sugar bush" or maple grove, from early Native American times to the modern sugaring industry. Simmer sap over an open fire and watch as it thickens to syrup. Everyone's invited on a "Sugarin' Time" hike to learn how to distinguish maples from other species of hardwood trees.
This is one of the district's most-popular nature programs. While visiting LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, be sure to stop inside Creek Bend Nature Center to check out the interactive exhibits. There's plenty to see and do. Admission to Creek Bend Nature Center is always free.
Festival of the Sugar Maples
• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3 and 9-10
• Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset Drive, Marengo
• Free; call (815) 479-5779 or visit www.MCCDistrict.org.
Celebrate the change of seasons at McHenry County Conservation District's Festival of the Sugar Maples.
This all-ages program focuses on the history of maple sugaring and the evolution of the sap collection process. Tours begin every 15 minutes, last approximately one hour and involve a half-mile hike through the woods. Dress for the weather, and leave your pets at home.
Pure maple syrup from Wisconsin, maple-flavored candies and cookies will be available for purchase. Looking to try to tap your own maple tree? Pick up a spile or two with instructions on how to make your own syrup.
Want to fuel up before or after your adventure? From 7 a.m. to noon on Sundays, March 3 and 10, the Union Lions Club holds its annual pancake breakfast at Union Fire Protection District, 6606 Main St., Union. Breakfast is $6 per adult and $3 per child.
Since 1979, the conservation district has educated thousands of visitors and school groups about the process of turning the sap from maple trees into delicious maple syrup.