Maple mania has struck in Brown County again! Instead of March Madness, we celebrate a little something called Maple Madness around here. That’s right…we’re talking about sticky, sweet, and oh-so-delicious maple syrup!
Why is maple syrup important to Brown County?
Geographically, Indiana holds the southern and western-most position in the U.S. Maple Sugar Belt. What’s that mean? Well, as winter gives way to spring the sap flows first in Indiana’s maple stands…and as the state’s most densely forested county, Brown County has plenty of maple trees to tap into! Rich in natural resources and home to a wide variety of maples (that’s why our leaves are so colorful in the fall), Brown County has a long history of maple sugar production and a pioneering spirit perfect for the craft.
To celebrate all things maple, Brown County is hosting the National Maple Syrup Festival on March 2-3! Originating in Medora, Indiana in 2010, the festival moved to Brown County in 2015. Bringing together maple sugar producers, hobbyists, and connoisseurs of all ages, it’s sure to be one sweet weekend filled with endless maple goodness!
What you’ll find at festival HQ, the Story Inn:
This is your chance to see first-hand how the magic is made during Native American, early French American, and modern-day sugaring demonstrations. Arts and crafts from Indiana Artisans also will be on display for admiring and purchasing. There will even be dutch oven cooking demos by none other than the Dutch Oven Diva Lesley Tennessen herself and a couple of pals. Recipes will feature maple syrup, of course!
Besides taking in live music by local musicians, you’ll also find local and regional food vendors, beer, wine, and spirits. Be on the lookout for Brown County’s Bear Wallow Distillery, who will be debuting a special release maple-finished Gnaw Bone Bourbon. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of maple syrup from Indiana producers for sale too. Stock up while you can!
The main festival grounds will be open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days. And, when you buy a ticket it’s good for not one, but two days of fun! You can get your tickets by clicking here or you can buy them at the gate.
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 both days from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dig into all-you-can-eat pancakes with 100% pure maple syrup, sausage, and tasty breakfast beverages. We can’t think of a better way to start the day! Just get your tickets once you get there.
The fest also will include a special Maple-Inspired Dinner at the Story Inn on Saturday evening. Not only will you be treated to four delicious, maple-infused courses, but each will be skillfully paired with local brews and spirits for your dining pleasure. Arugula salad, pork cheek, smoked New York strip steak, walking churros, and plenty of maple syrup in each dish…mmm, our mouths are watering! You must be 21 or older to attend the dinner. Click here for tickets!
Another fun foodie event will be the Sweet Victory Challenge on Sunday afternoon. A festival tradition, this cooking competition gathers recipes from across the nation featuring maple syrup in breakfast, savory, and sweet categories. Then, the top five recipes from each are picked and prepared in-house at the Story Inn, where they are presented to judges to pick their favorites. If you’re in the audience, you may even get to taste-test a few too! This event is free, but there is limited seating, so arrive in plenty of time to secure your spot at the table.
What’s happening at the Visitors Center:
While festival headquarters will be buzzing with activity all weekend long, there will be plenty of maple fun going on in the Village of Nashville too! Check out Sap School at the Visitors Center on Saturday, March 2. Learn the basics of maple syrup from a Brown County producer, then head out for a short walk where you’ll learn how to identify maple trees and even get to see a tree or two get tapped! Sap School is free and starts at 10 a.m.
More maple in the Village and beyond:
We can’t leave out Maple on the Menu! The whole month of March, some of Brown County’s finest restaurants and snack shops will be serving sweet and savory maple-infused items. That’s right…31 days of maple yumminess! You’ll find dishes and goodies that bring a unique maple twist to classic favorites and some truly one-of-a-kind maple creations. Just look for a “Maple on the Menu” sign the window and you’ve hit the jackpot! Check out the full list of Maple on the Menu items here.
There is no doubt about it, there is something sweet happening in Brown County this March. Come see for yourself!