Maple Sugar Festival @ Institute for American Indian Studies March 5

The sugaring off the process in the Litchfield Hills has a long history that began with the Native Americans living here. They were experts at knowing the perfect time to collect the sap which is when the days grow warm and the nights are still cold, and before the trees begin to bud. They would boil the sap down using time-honored techniques and materials collected from the environment. On Saturday, March 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors to the Institute for American Indian Studies on 38 Curtis Road in Washington, Connecticut can join IAIS educators at an event that demonstrates and celebrates this golden syrup of spring.

At 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm, IAIS Educator and Ecologist, Susan Scherf will demonstrate various traditional Native American techniques of collecting sap and boiling it down into syrup for sugar. It is interesting to watch how Native Americans used tools made from a variety of natural materials in this labor-intensive process. Visitors will learn about the importance of maple sugar to the diet of Native Americans as well as its usefulness as an item of trade.

Historic records indicate that the collecting and processing of maple sap was a social as well as a working occasion. Women would tap the trees, men would cut the wood for the fire needed to boil the sap, and children tended the sap as it bubbled and boiled. In keeping with the convivial nature of traditional Native American maple sugaring, listen to Traditional Native American stories recounted by Education Director Darlene Kascak, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation at 12:00 and 2:00 pm. Throughout the day, there will also be traditional family-friendly games and activities to enrich the visitor experience at the Institute’s Maple Sugar Festival. If you have worked up an appetite, the Institute is serving up pancakes topped with real maple syrup sure to satiate your taste buds from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Coffee and orange juice will also be available.

The annual Maple Sugar Festival at the Institute teaches visitors about the importance of the maple season to local Native American cultures. Pre-registration for this event is requested by visiting to register for this event via Eventbrite. If you have any questions, please call the Institute at 860-868-0516 or email The price to attend this very unique festival is $15 for Adults, $10 for Children, and $5 for Members. Pancakes are an additional $5. For the safety of the guests and staff of the Institute, masks are required inside the museum and research buildings regardless of vaccination status. Social distancing is practiced at all outdoor events.

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