Tuesday, March 03, 2015
That’s when the region pays homage to maple syrup, the one Canadian icon those in other parts of the world can only dream of tasting.
The annual sweet nectar harvest and all things related to it highlight a number of special events throughout the region.
“Everyone loves a little taste of taffy on the snow or syrup on their pancakes,” says Jennifer Whitley, marketing manager for Ontario’s Lake Country, which kicked off its three-month Tap into Maple event March 1 - May 31.
“It is something to do in the spring when there are not many other activities happening.”
Now in its second year, Tap into Maple gives those visiting the Lake Country region (Orillia and neighbouring townships) a chance to “experience all things maple,” according to Whitley.
Visitors can grab a map and travel along a scenic self-guided route with participating businesses and organizations offering a variety of fun options from hands-on experiences and delicious treats to giftware and stay-and-play packages at locations such as Bayview Wildwood Resort and Casino Rama.
“You can do it all in one day or multiple days depending on how many stops you wanted to make,” Whitley says, pointing out last year’s event attracted not only visitors from across the province, but also from other countries as foreign guests sought the “real Canadian” experience.
“Pick up a passport, explore and experience the sweetest route in Ontario’s Lake Country and Springwater,” Whitley says, adding those collecting three stamps at participating businesses along the route can submit the passport and have a chance to win one of three maple prize packages.
Besides enjoying a variety of shops, restaurants and accommodations, there are also museums and farmers’ markets across the region incorporating maple into their products.
Worldwide, maple syrup is only produced in certain parts of Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the northeastern United States due to a climate comprised of below freezing nights and higher daytime temperatures that allows the sap to run.
Near Midland, the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre hosts one of Ontario’s longest running maple syrup festivals with the 23rd annual Sweetwater Harvest Festival slated for March 28 and 29.
Running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the festival celebrates the history of maple syrup and the role it plays in the nation’s cultural and natural heritage.
Wye Marsh marketing and development coordinator Laura Thomas says Sweetwater is not your average maple syrup festival due to its setting and emphasis on nature.
“We have an educational component,” Thomas says, noting the wildlife centre is also home to many birds and mammals that use maple sap as an important food source in the spring before trees and plants blossom and insects reappear.
“We’re bringing the natural element back into play. The biggest feedback we get is ‘don’t change a thing.’”
While there are sugar-shack tours, pancakes and taffy tasting, visitors can also check out the centre’s birds of prey and enjoy reptile/amphibian talks along with wilderness survival, cooking and woodcarving demonstrations.
Tickets cost $10 each with families (two adults, the children) paying $30. There’s also an all-day pancake breakfast for $5.
A little further east near Lakefield, McLean Berry Farm’s Maplefest runs on consecutive weekends in March beginning on the 14th (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Now in its 22nd year, the family-friendly event features hayrides, live music, the chance to meet farm animals and, of course, enjoy and learn more about spring’s sweet tonic with tree tappings, tastings and other demonstrations.
Entrance fees are $7 per person with families of four getting in for $25.
A little later in the spring, the Orillia Farmers’ Market holds its annual maple syrup market festival on May 9th. Featuring live music, the friendly market offers the chance to take home a variety of maple products with visitors also able bring along their aforementioned Tap into Maple passport for a complimentary maple treat.
These are just a few of maple festivals featured in the blog, our website has a full list of festivals, events and special maple promotions happening north of Toronto spring 2015.
Events and maple celebrations are taking place at resorts, restaurants, sugar shacks and fun places and destinations and are a welcome spring tradition for all.
Article written by: A Philips for 400eleven.com
Photo Credits: 400 Eleven Inc., Ontario's Lake Country
Wye Marsh & McLean Berry Farm