Niagara Gazette — The annual celebration of the state's maple producing prowess kicks off this weekend with a series of events at local farms and fire halls.
The New York State Maple Producers Association's 18th annual Maple Weekend will be held Saturday and Sunday and March 23 and 24. Tapping demonstrations, maple tastings and pancake breakfasts in western Orleans and eastern Niagara on tap this weekend.
According to the New York State Maple Association, there are more than 500 "sugarmakers" crafting maple syrup, sugar, snacks, spreads and gift items across the state. New York is the second-largest maple producing state in the United States, with more than 360,000 gallons of syrup produced last year.
Locally, tapping operations in Shelby, Middleport and Cambria will show off the taps and tubing that bring out sap from the sugarbush to their sugarhouses.
Flyway Farm, 10888 W. Shelby Road, will have tapping demonstrations on both weekends and a wide variety of maple products to taste and buy — everything from maple syrup and maple sugar to maple-flavored cotton candy and maple jelly.
The 600-tap operation at Wolf Maple Products, 9355 Chestnut Ridge Road, will have tractor rides into the sugar bush if the weather cooperates, a petting zoo and maple soft-serve ice cream and maple cream glazed donuts.
Niagara Forestry, 4177 Lower Mountain Road, will be boiling sap into syrup if the weather is good. They'll have samples of syrup to taste.
In addition to the events at maple producers, a pair of pancake breakfasts are being held Sunday morning.
The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, 4677 S. Gravel Road, will host a breakfast from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring pancakes, sausage, eggs, ham, homefries, coffee, juice, milk and real maple syrup. The meal is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 10.
In Middleport, Boy Scouts will serve a meal of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, milk, juice, coffee and real maple syrup at the Middleport Fire Department, 28 Main St., from 7 a.m. to noon. The meal costs $6 for adults and $4 for children aged 5 to 12.
The Hartland Volunteer Fire Company, 8945 Ridge Road, Gasport will hold their pancake breakfast during the second weekend of maple festivities. They'll serve pancakes, sausage, polish sausage,eggs, fruit, toast, pastries, coffee, juice, milk and real maple syrup from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24. The meal costs $7 for adults an