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A Sweet Event

Maple Weekends in NYS commemorate production & flavor right in our backyard
Maple Syrup is a rich and healthful treat that we are fortunate to have right in our own backyards. Celebrate its harvest and production March 21-22 and 28-29 through the New York State Maple Producers Association’s 20th annual Maple Weekends!
New York makes some of the finest maple syrup in the country. Pure maple syrup boasts polyphenols and more than 54 antioxidants to quell inflammation - a contributing factor to such diseases as arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Its high levels of zinc and manganese help with heart and immune health as well. Because maple syrup reflects soil quality, the rich calcium deposits throughout the state infuse its already nutrient-rich profile with additional health benefits, along with a gentler finish.  Like beer, the darker the syrup, the more antioxidants it contains.
Twenty years ago, Attica-based maple producer Greg Zimpfer co-founded Maple Weekend. He wanted to show how maple syrup is made amongst the NY family of producers. “If you’ve ever had a question about how pure maple syrup is made,” he commented, “you’ll get answers on maple weekend.” Zimpfer still chairs the event to this day. “It is a great day in the country for the entire family,” he said. 
New York is the second largest maple producing state in the country. Last year, 2.2 million taps produced 546,000 gallons of syrup, which accounted for 17% of the 2014 U.S. supply. Production was down slightly from 2013 due to freezes and snowstorms lasting through March.  Total production from New York in 2013 totaled $26.025 million. Figures for 2014 will be released in June.
Production of one gallon of maple syrup requires 40 to 45 gallons of maple sap. Sap officially becomes syrup when its sugar concentration reaches higher than 67%. Furthermore, New York State’s standards for grade have changed this year. Previously, coloring indicated grade. Of the four options - golden color with a delicate taste, amber color with a rich taste, dark with a robust taste, and very dark with a strong taste - the lightest three were categorized Grade A, while the darkest was categorized Grade B. As of this year, all four are categorized Grade A.
A variety of events will take place throughout Cattaraugus County to acquaint you with NY Maple Producers Association members. From Farmersville to Delevan, Hinsdale to Franklinville, several participants will show you everything you’ve ever wanted to know and then some - from how to make taffy, to old and new ways of crafting the sweet reward. Start your Maple Weekend adventure off with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast featuring New York’s finest maple syrups.  Find the closest farm or pancake breakfast site to you ... go to www.mapleweekend.com.  Visit one or visit them all!  After all, you do have four days. Events run from 10am-4pm each day.
Here are a few of our top picks: Moore’s Maple Shack Pancake House has served maple syrup since 1967. They are located at 10437 Galen Hill Road, Freedom, NY 14065. Barbara’s Maple Haven serves pancakes as well. This spot is located at 103 N Main Street, Franklinville, NY 14737. Brigg’s Hill Maple Farm is a classic stop located at 4420 Briggs Road, Little Valley, NY 14755. Boburg’s Maple is known for its maple cream and is located at 2298 Edmunds Road, Delevan, NY 14042. Wright Farms is celebrating its 125th year making syrup! They are located at 9053 Laidlaw Road, Franklinville, NY 14737. Maple Ridge Bison Ranch will not be participating in this year’s event; however, as a local producer of bison with minimal-human interaction and a back-to-basics, regenerative approach, owner and operator Jeff Goodyear also deserves your support. This season his efforts have been elsewhere on the farm. “I’ll fire up the wood burning arch next year,” says Goodyear, “so that people can try some buffalo sausage links with their pancakes and syrup.” Maple Ridge is located at 4789 Gile Hollow Road, Hinsdale, NY 14743.
In addition to the delectable syrup itself, each location will provide maple offerings running the gamut from cream, sugar (including molded), coffee, tea, jelly, butters, suckers, cotton candy, snow, breads, fudges, nuts, and mousse.
Some chefs incorporate maple syrup into savory dishes as well. One such place is perhaps the most well known of all Cattaraugus County maple-producers. Sprague Farm has been called “New York’s Maple Wonderland” and features a restaurant, gift shop, nearly 30,000 taps, and both traditional and modern syrup processing techniques. Their events this year will include taffy demonstrations, wagon rides to a 5,000 tap sugar bush stand near a traditional sugar shack, as well as a show of the farm’s current processing technique (which involves reverse-osmosis and a fancy evaporator). Make sure to try their renowned free-range turkey dinner. Adults may sample the in-house made maple chardonnay as well.  Sprague’s is located at 1048 Route 305, Portville, NY 14770.
Franklinville will host its annual Maple Festival on the last weekend of April. Festivities begin Thursday in the high school auditorium with the crowning of the Maple King and Queen. Both Saturday and Sunday all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfasts will be served from 7:30am-2pm at the elementary school.  Saturday will also feature a 10K race and a 2-mile walk, as well as a parade with floats, music, and horses down Main Street.
On Sunday, a car show will take place from 9am-4pm. Additional events include square dancing, chainsaw demonstrations, and a craft show. To become involved or for additional information, check out www.franklinvilleny.org.
Not only is maple syrup a rich and healthful treat, it is also a driving force of New York’s agricultural economy. Being available down the street or a few towns away, it is the quintessence of the “shop local” approach and philosophy. Whether you see a sign for maple syrup and stop by to help out a fellow New York farmer or patronize the modern and traditional facilities of Sprague’s Farms, you will be doing both yourself and your community a service.  Enjoy!