It’s the sweetest time of the year with maple syrup season in full swing in the greater Kawarthas region, culminating on the first weekend of April with the Sunderland Maple Syrup Festival just east of Kawartha Lakes and local maple producers across the Kawarthas participating in Maple Weekend.
Maple syrup season begins when tree sap begins to flow. This happens when fluctuations in wood temperature occur during the dormant season for maple trees, caused by daytime temperatures rising above freezing and nighttime temperatures falling below freezing.
The temperature changes create periods of alternating negative and positive pressure within the tree, causing the sap to run. Once temperatures no longer fluctuate between freezing at night and thawing during the day, the sap stops flowing.
If nighttime temperatures continue to drop below freezing but buds begin to develop on the trees because of warm daytime temperatures, maple syrup production also stops as the sap develops an unpleasant flavour described as “buddy”.
Although the Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival in Northumberland County took place on March 11 and 12, Sandy Flat Sugar Bush (500 Concession Road 3 W., Warkworth) is inviting visitors back to the sugar bush for “A Weekend at The Flat” on Saturday, March 18th and Sunday, March 19th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This event features taffy on the snow, horse-wagon rides, live music on stage, and access to trails, with breakfast served by the Warkworth Community Service Club. Admission is $10, cash only (free for children two and under).
Maple syrup celebrations culminate on Saturday, April 1st and Sunday, April 2nd with the Sunderland Maple Syrup Festival as well as Maple Weekend featuring members of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.
Located in Durham Region, around 30 kilometres east of Lindsay, the community of Sunderland has hosted its annual maple syrup festival for 26 years, except for a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
The Sunderland Maple Syrup Festival features a full weekend of family-friendly events and activities. You can take a maple syrup historical bus tour as well as bus tours to Harlaine Farms, where you can visit the sugar shack and see maple production methods and a native and pioneer display. There’s also a petting zoo and pony rides, a draft horse display, a pancake breakfast, demonstrations by Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue and Fallen Willow Forge, First Nation Cultural Tours, live stage entertainment, a stoker biomass heating demonstration at Northern Metalworks, bathtub races, 4-H Ontario’s lawn tractor pull demonstration, and a vendors’ market.
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 1 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 2. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit maplesyrupfestival.ca.
Also on April 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association is presenting Maple Weekend, when many producers offer trips to the sugar bush, free samples of fresh maple syrup and confections, pancake breakfasts, sugar-making demonstrations, taffy on snow, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more.
Participating producers in the Kawarthas region include:
- Colour of Wood (1255 Peterson Rd, Minden, 249-993-0134 or email@example.com)
- Waverly Brook Farm (6359 Gelert Road, Haliburton, 705-457-2214 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Rainbow Woods (65 Ripley’s Way, Kirkfield, 705-454-3167 or email@example.com)
- Woodleigh Farms (528 Sharpe Line, Cavan, 705-761-2063 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Staples Maple Syrup (403 Highway 7A, Cavan, 705-933-8295 or email@example.com)
- Clancey & Gale’s Maple Syrup Products (542 Waite Rd. W., Pontypool, 705-277-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Puddleduck Farm (541 Glamorgan Rd., Pontypool, 705-931-5794 or email@example.com)
- Red Mill Maple Syrup (1232 Deyell Line, Millbrook, 705-927-6376 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- J & K Sugar Shack (3804 Challice Line, Millbrook, 705-932-2817 or email@example.com)
- Sweet Maple Farm (10010 Powerline Rd., Millbrook, 705-932-2418 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Johnston’s Farm Market (10704 Northumberland County Road 28, Bailieboro, 705-939-1737 or email@example.com)
- Curle’s Maple Products (726 8th Line W., Campbellford, 705-653-2519 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can find out more about Maple Weekend and the activities offered by participating producers at www.ontariomaple.com/maple-weekend, which also features an interactive map.