A Trio of Maple Sugaring Festivals For March 17 In Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County CT

The Institute for American Indian Studies will have a different take on sugaring at its annual festival on the 17th from 11 am- 3 pm. Demonstrations will show how local Native Americans traditionally made maple syrup and its importance to their culture and pancakes made by IAIS staff will be served with local maple syrup from 11 am – 1 pm. 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT 06793. (860)868-0518

The sweet aroma of boiling sap and syrup will fill the air and samples of fresh syrup will be handed out to guests at the annual Maplefest at the Sharon Audubon Center on March 17th from 10 am – 4 pm.. Guided Tours throughout the day take approximately 45 minutes. Visitors walk down Maple Trail, where they can peek at the sap dripping into the hanging buckets while learning about the tapping and gathering process. The Sugarhouse is a favorite stop along the tour. Here, visitors smell the aroma of boiling maple syrup as they watch the sap turn into syrup right in front of their eyes. The last stop of the tour includes a re-creation of Native American and early Colonial sugaring methods. Fresh maple syrup is available for purchase at the Nature Store. www.sharon.audubon.org. Audubon Sharon, 325 Cornwall Bridge Rd.Sharon, CT 06069. (860) 364-0520.

The New Canaan Nature Center’s Syrup Saturday festival returns on Saturday, March 17 from 10:30am – 2:00 pm. This annual event celebrates the New England tradition of maple syrup making and includes a pancake brunch with different varieties of syrup, including the Nature Center’s own. www.newcanaannature.org.

Nature Center educators and local families who have “adopted” a tree for the season have been collecting sap from over 50 of the center’s maples over the last month.

How does it work? Freezing temperatures create suction that draws water in through a tree’s roots, and warm periods create pressure which causes the sap to flow out through a tap hole where it’s collected in buckets. This sap, a combination of water, salt and sugar, serves as the tree’s food and is the sole ingredient of pure maple syrup.

During Syrup Saturday, visitors will get a chance to observe the entire process from tree tapping to boiling into syrup at the “sugar shack”. Educators will also demonstrate historic methods of maple syruping.

Local maple syrup and maple baked goods will be for sale. Guests can test their taste buds on real vs. fake syrup and learn what the different grades mean.

Join Nature Center naturalists for a hike along “Maple Lane” to learn how to identify sugar maples and other trees while hunting for signs of spring. Kids will make a maple-themed craft to take home. This event is primarily held outdoors and activities will be ongoing throughout the day.

Members: $8/person / Non-Members: $12/person.

About the New Canaan Nature Center

New Canaan Nature Center , 144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT 06840. (Rte. 15, Exit 37). (203) 966-9577. Two miles of trails traverse diverse habitats, including meadows, woodlands, ponds, dense thickets, an old orchard and a cattail marsh on 40 acres. The center offers a live birds of prey exhibit, gardens, a greenhouse and a Visitors Center with a Discovery Room, art exhibits and gift shop. Programs include a nature-based preschool, camp programs, birthday parties, special events and volunteer opportunities. Admission is FREE. Visitor’s Center open Mon. – Sat., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Grounds and trails open dawn to dusk daily. www.newcanaannature.org

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