2009-03-19 / Happenings

Hartwick Pines to host Maple Sugar Day March 28

Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling will host its annual Maple Sugar Day March 28. Visitors will learn about North America's oldest agricultural product with activities slated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors to the park will be able to:

• walk into the sugarbush to help tap a maple tree,

• observe the boil-down process which converts maple sap to maple syrup,

• learn about the history of maple sugar making in North America,

• view videos titled "Maple Sugar Farmer," "Maple Sugaring" and "The Maple Sugaring Story,"

• ask an expert about how to start making maple syrup and tap trees in your own backyard,

• taste maple sap and the finished maple syrup and

• purchase genuine maple sugar candy and syrup.

Children can participate in tapping a maple tree and will learn how to build their own mokuk, a birch bark container in which native peoples transported maple sugar.Making a paper mokuk replica provides a history lesson and discussion about how European settlers learned of the native Americans' sugaring culture.

Tree tapping demonstrations will take place at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the sugar bush, and some visitors will be able to help staff tap the maple trees.

Visitors will be able to taste maple syrup and sap, smell the aroma around an outside evaporator pan and welcome spring. Maple recipes will be available for those wishing to savor the sweetness of the day.

Along with the annual Maple Syrup Day on March 28, schoolchildren will have a chance to come out and visit the sugarbush and learn about the science and history of maple syrup making during the weeks of March 23-27 and March 30-April 3. If teachers are interested, they may call (989) 348-2537 to arrange for a visit. The staff can take up to two to three classes during a one-hour program.

There is no fee for the event, but a state park motor vehicle permit is required for park entry. Permits are $24 for a Michigan resident for an annual and $6 for a daily.

For information on Hartwick Pines State Park, visit the park's web site at www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines.

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