Early spring brings that happy drip, drip, drip of pure maple goodness.
Tree tapping, syrup-making and syrup festivals mark the Michigan tradition of celebrating everything good that comes from the sap of the maple tree. The sugaring season flows for four to six weeks, from mid-February to mid-March in most of the state.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. Michigan produces 91,000 gallons of syrup annually—three percent of the nation’s total. But you don’t have to go far to find the fun.
- Michigan Maple Weekends, sponsored by the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, show off tree-tapping, harvesting, syrup and candy-making at farms around the state, where you also meet maple syrup makers. Dates in Southern Michigan are March 21-22, Northern Lower Michigan March 28-29, and the Upper Peninsula, April 4-5. michiganmaple.org
- The Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival, held April 23-26 near Mt. Pleasant, includes a parade, classic cars, pancake and homemade sausage breakfasts, and syrup-making demonstrations. For 62 years Shepherd has called itself “the sweetest little town anywhere around.” shepherdmaplesyrupfest.org
- Vermontville’s Maple Syrup Festival from April 24-26 does it big—a parade, pancakes, barbeque, arts and crafts show, a festival queen, syrup-making demonstrations and even a Little Miss Maple Syrup pageant. This small village near Vermontville was settled in the 1800s by New Englanders who brought their syrup-savvy ways with them. It’s unforgettable to see firsthand the steaming, bubbling sap distilled down to that pure amber syrup. vermontvillemaplesyrupfestival.org
- Family tree-tapping and syrup-making events abound in early spring, including at K. Kellogg Experimental Forest in Augusta, Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, the University of Michigan Dearborn Environmental Center, MSU Tollgate Farm in Novi, Maple Row Sugarhouse in Jones, and at southeast Michigan Metroparks.
Check other parks, outdoor centers, farms and historical societies for events near you—but don’t wait too long, because sugaring off will be finished before you know it.