How Sweet it is in New Hampshire during Maple Sugar Season!

The 2012 Maple Sugar season in the Granite State has officially begun, starting about one week to ten days early, according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association (NHMPA), due to the milder than usual winter weather. However, the season is predicted to be just as “sweet” as usual, with the normal amounts of maple syrup being produced by the industry. Each year the New Hampshire maple industry produces close to 90,000 gallons of maple syrup. And, this year, the NHMPA says that a record 112 sugar houses will participate in NH Maple Weekend. Hours and participating locations can be found at www.nhmapleproducers.com or call 603-225-3757 for information.

Kicking off this season’s Maple Experience is the annual Tree Tapping ceremony to be held on March 8, 2012 at 1pm with Governor John Lynch. The event is a ceremonial beginning to the maple season in New Hampshire and will be held this year at Fadden’s Sugar House in North Woodstock. This will be the eighth time that Governor Lynch will be tapping a maple tree for the ceremony. The public is encouraged to join the celebration.

Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director, Division of Agricultural Development, says, “The annual maple tree tapping ceremony is a sure sign of spring and we are looking forward to another great production season in the Granite State.”

This year’s New Hampshire Maple Weekend occurs March 24-25. Maple Weekend is an annual open house held by the maple producers of the state to showcase their products. A record 112 sugar houses in the state will be offering samples of syrup, maple products and refreshments. Some locations will have petting farms, pancake breakfasts and sleigh or hay rides. http://tamfarm.com; http://www.raggedviewfarm.com/

Director of NH Travel & Tourism Development, Lori Harnois, says, “Maple Sugar weekend is a fun family tradition in New Hampshire, as children of all ages love to gather sap and taste the cooled syrup on cold snow! We encourage visitors to come join the fun at the many local sugar houses in the state, learn about the centuries-old craft of how sap is turned into syrup, and enjoy the unofficial and tasty kick off to spring!”

A Sweet Sampling of Maple Events and Activities across the State:

  • March Maple Madness in the Mt. Washington Valley: Embarking on a self-guided inn-to-inn tour, ticket holders can participate in “The Maddening Scavenger Hunt”. Traveling through the White Mountains there will be opportunities to visit several “Sugaring” locations to experience the maple syrup process first hand, uncover clues, and gather objects for the Scavenger Hunt
  • Maple Sugar Weekend: Enfield Shaker Museum, Enfield– March 17-18 & 24-25–Guests will enjoy sugarhouse tours, sleigh rides and crafts. Enjoy free samples, horse-drawn carriage rides, sugar on snow, pancake breakfasts and more. Fun for the whole family.
  • The New Hampshire Maple Experience: Maple tours are back on tap at The Rocks Estate this spring. Participate in the process of tapping trees and making syrup, horse-drawn wagon rides through the scenic Rocks property, and tasty treats have made these tours a favorite springtime tradition. Maple tours at the 1,400-acre Rocks Estate, owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, are scheduled for March 12, 19-20, 26-27, and April 7-8, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. And for those looking to turn the springtime Maple Experience into a weekend-long North Country stay, The Rocks collaborates with local inns to offer weekend vacation packages. Visit www.therocks.org/vacations.php to find participating lodging establishments.
  • Stonewall Farm Sap Gathering Contest in Keene takes place on March 24th. Each year, Stonewall Farm invites about twenty teams of draft horses and their owners to race along a course set up in the woodlands behind the Learning Center. They gather sap from old-fashioned buckets, which are then dumped into a large holding tank at the end of the run. Teams are judged for technique, time and quantity.
  • Maple Sugar Madness! At Prescott Farm in Laconia, visitors can experience the old-fashioned New England tradition of making maple syrup. Tap a tree, taste delicious maple syrup, build tree identification skills and learn the parts of a tree and their functions, use historical and modern tree tapping tools and discover the math and chemical/physical science in the boiling process.
  • Bisson’s Sugar House in Berlin continues a third-generation family tradition that dates back to 1921. Although they’ve modernized their sap collection system to be more efficient, they still boil their sap on a wood fire evaporator. During the sugaring season, they also make their special maple butter, taffy and maple candy.
  • Fuller’s Sugar House in downtown Lancaster, a “Best of New Hampshire Grand,” where maple syrup has been a tradition since 1972. When the maple season begins, this fourth generation family-owned sugarhouse taps maple trees in four “sugar bushes” or “maple groves” in the Lancaster area. Each spring Fuller’s taps more than 9,500 maple trees, boils down over 160,000 gallons of maple sap and produces over 4,000 gallons of maple syrup. Sap is collected by a plastic tubing system and hauled to the sugarhouse where it is boiled to golden smooth syrup.
  • Parkers Maple Barn in Mason has been a family establishment since the late 1960s. The Sugar House still produces maple syrup following the old tradition of wood-fired evaporators. Mason is a quaint country town historically known as the boyhood home of “Uncle Sam“, a fact that this town is still proud of today.
  • Mapletree Farm LLC of East Concord is holding its open house on Saturday, March 24th. Visitors will be able to see the sugar house in operation, watch the sap flow through hundreds of feet of tubing, take a self-guided tour of the orchard and woodland, and get free samples of maple goodies.
  • Wilson’s Sugar House in Brentwood is hosting a pancake breakfast and free tours & syrup samples during NH Maple Weekend, March 24th-25th. This traditional sugar house located on the Exeter River was built in 2006 from lumber harvested from the property. From 2006 to 2010, Wilson’s produced an average of 15 gallons of syrup a year from 100 taps using a 2 by 4 wood fired evaporator.

For visitors who wish to spend a whole weekend in the heart of maple country, and get a “sweet” deal in the process, friend or follow VisitNH.gov on Facebook or Twitter and enjoy the “fan benefit” with the Sunset Hill House in Sugar Hill, N.H., which includes: Two nights lodging in a traditional room with king or queen bed with scenic mountain views, full gourmet breakfast each morning and either the maple experience at The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem or a tour of Fullers Sugar House in Lancaster with up to a 60% discount for New Hampshire fans. Complete package details are available on www.facebook.com/VisitNH.

For more travel features, visit:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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