2016 National Maple Syrup Festival Coming to Brown County, March 5-6
February 17, 2016
Maple mania has officially struck Brown County as the National Maple Syrup Festival is fast approaching! The fun, sticky, and oh so sweet Festival returns to Brown County for a second year, March 5-6.
Originating in Medora, Indiana, in 2010, the Festival moved to Brown County in 2015. Geographically, Indiana holds the southern and westernmost position in the United States’ Maple Sugar Belt meaning as winter gives way to spring the sap flows first in Indiana’s maple stands. As Indiana's most densely forested county, Brown County is an ideal location for the National Maple Syrup Festival as it is rich in natural resources, home to a wide variety of maple trees, and reflects the pioneering essence and history of maple sugar production.
The grand celebration of all things maple, the Festival will bring together maple sugar producers and hobbyists, maple syrup connoisseurs, and visitors of all ages for a weekend full of activities and events. From live sugaring demonstrations and guided hikes to warm maple syrup flights, kids activities, a pancake breakfast, and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the National Maple Syrup Festival.
New to the 2016 Festival is Tap the Town on February 27. Taking place the weekend before the Festival, this hands-on experience provides guests with the unique opportunity to tap their own maple tree in the Village of Nashville! Tap the Town at Creekside Retreat includes a maple sugaring program with brunch beginning at 11 a.m. The event also will include a visit to Hinkle-Garton Farmstead, a commemorative bottle of pure Indiana maple syrup, and tickets to the National Maple Syrup Festival on March 5-6.
Visitors will learn the ropes of tapping before searching out the perfect tree in town. After inserting their tap, they will be able to watch firsthand as the sap begins to flow, officially kicking off Brown County’s maple festivities. Participants also will receive sap production updates on their tree and the sap collected will be used for demonstrations during the National Maple Syrup Festival. This one-of-a-kind event costs $125 per couple or $150 for a group of four. A $20 fee will be charged for each additional person after that. Tickets are available online at www.browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival.
With the sap freely flowing, maple mania will continue the following weekend at the National Maple Syrup Festival, March 5-6. This year Festival headquarters will be at the Brown County State Park. Not only will festival guests learn the basics of maple syrup and the sugaring process, they also will be able to see for themselves how it is done.
The State Park’s Lower Shelter will serve as the hub for all the maple excitement. Inside and surrounding the Lower Shelter, guests will be able to freely explore the Festival’s maple marvels. There will be live reenactments of Native American and French Colonial maple sugaring techniques, as well as modern day sugaring demonstrations. Festival-goers also will have the opportunity to attend Sap School, where they will learn from sugaring experts all there is to know about the maple biz and sugaring in general.
Kids will be able to test their sugar making skills too during Sugaring for Small Folks, a fun and interactive experience showcasing the sap to syrup process. After the kiddos have mastered maple sugaring, they can take on the Sticky-Fingered Maple Syrup Challenge Course, an obstacle course modeled after the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist of 2012.
Festivities also will include guided interpretive hikes along State Park trails. Groups will depart from the Lower Shelter for a leisurely stroll, where they will identify maple trees and learn their role in sugar and syrup production. Of course, there will be syrup sampling as well. For a small fee, festival-goers will be able to try a variety of syrups produced in multiple states as they dive into a warm maple syrup flight. Sponsored by Rawhide Ranch, guests will have the opportunity to create their serving tray and souvenir by branding a piece of wood.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Festival’s Maple Market will offer maple-related merchandise, a beer and wine garden, live acoustic music, and food, all under a heated tent. There will even be a culinary competition featuring maple recipes at the Abe Martin Lodge on Saturday!
The National Maple Syrup Festival will take place on Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Weekend admission is $10; children 6 and under are free. Festival-goers can park in town and board the Maple Motor Coach for a park tour ending at the Festival gates. Minimal parking also will be available within the State Park. Tickets can be purchased online at www.browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival, at the Festival gate, or in the Visitors Center.
While festival headquarters will be buzzing with activity all weekend long, there will be plenty of maple fun going on in town as well. No maple syrup festival would be complete without pancakes, which is exactly why Chris Cakes will be serving up delicious hotcakes with a side of entertainment during the Festival’s Pancake Breakfasts on March 5 and 6. Hosted by the Brown County High School Student Council, these breakfasts are an all-you-can-eat steal. The breakfasts will be held at Brown County High School from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-18, or $30 for the entire family. Children 2 years and younger are free. Tickets are available online at www.browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival or can be purchased at the door.
Guests can definitely expect to find plenty of Maple on the Menu around town too. During the Festival, some of Brown County’s finest restaurants and treat shops will be serving sweet and savory maple-infused items. Look for items that bring a unique maple twist to classic favorites, as well as truly one-of-a-kind maple creations. Participating restaurants and shops will be designated with a “Maple on the Menu” sign. Special Maple on the Menu dishes will be available for three weekends: February 26-28, March 4-6, and March 11-13.
Even the kiddos can get in on the maple food action going on in the Village during the Festival’s Sweet Storytelling and Snow Candy event at the Brown County Public Library. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. children 12 and younger will be treated to a reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House in the Big Woods” by one of Brown County’s beloved storytellers. Kids will then be able to make Snow Candy, a sugar maker favorite for centuries. Sweet Storytelling and Snow Candy is a free event.
While the National Maple Syrup Festival may end on March 6, maple festivities continue during Indiana’s first-ever Maple Weekend, March 12-13. Presented by the Indiana Maple Syrup Association and the National Maple Syrup Festival, Indiana Maple Weekend will provide guests with an exclusive look inside various sugar camps around the state. From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, attendees will be able to see how trees are tapped, how sap gets to the sugar house, and how it becomes maple syrup and other maple products. Details about Indiana Maple Weekend can be found at www.facebook.com/IndianaMapleWeekend/.
There is no doubt about it, Brown County has been struck with maple mania. From Tap the Town and the National Maple Syrup Festival to Indiana Maple Weekend, there is definitely something sweet happening in Brown County. Come check it out for yourself. It is guaranteed to be a memorable maple experience!
More information on Brown County’s maple-related events, including tickets to Tap the Town and the National Maple Syrup Festival, are available online at www.browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival or by calling 812-988-7303.
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