LANSING, Mich. — Fenner Nature Center invites everyone to experience Michigan’s syrupping culture with a working evaporator, all-you-can eat fundraiser pancake breakfast, sweet treats, and this year, five new hands-on stations. On March 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. come enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Michigan maple syrup and its rich history.
“A sugar shack smells like the salty-smoke scent of a wood fire intermixed with sucrose and maple sap’s faint, woodsy smell, like freshly fallen leaves. But for me, it smells like childhood. The smell of boiling sap down to maple syrup brings back memories of being hoisted onto my dad’s shoulders to peak in the sugar shack’s ventilation windows to see the syrupping process,” event manager Alexa Seeger said. “The sugar shack is still operating, along with many of our time-tested activities, but we are excited to incorporate these new opportunities for learning and memory making.”
This year festival visitors can experience firsthand historic aspects of syrupping at new stations like the Historical Syrupping Tool display and the Sumac Spile Making activity station. Exectutive director Liz Roxberry and her miniature horse Leo will be leading a Historic Sap Sled and Hitching Demonstration as well.
Other new stations include the Sap Sucker informational and crafting station which highlights animals, like the Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker, who drink sap. Guests can also learn about ethical forestry at the Maple Tree ID station and find out from experts if their backyard tree is good for tapping. They can also try a drop of syrups made from a variety of trees’ saps to taste the differences between maple syrup and others like birch or black walnut.
Of course, the festival still includes the time-tested stations and attractions that have seen this festival through 46 years. Festival-goers can also watch different syrupping techniques, and participate in hands-on activities like tapping a tree or carrying weighted buckets at the yoke lift station.
Inside, the public can enjoy the resulting sweet treats from Sugar Bush Supply Co. in Mason, sourced locally. In addition to syrup, maple candies, maple cookies, maple creme, maple cotton candy, maple tea, maple barbeque and maple mustard will be available for purchase.
In the Davis Nature Pavilion, the Guinness World Record Flapjack Flippers, Chris Cakes will be serving up pancakes with high flying antics and of course, a side of maple syrup. Every $10 ticket or $5 ticket for ages 4 and under that is purchased for the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast “Flapjacks for Fenner” will go directly to support the nature center.
The festival is free, with a suggested parking donation of $5. Parking is limited at Fenner Nature Center. Overflow parking is located at Crego Park,1600 Fidelity Road, Lansing, MI 48910, just up East Mount Hope Avenue from Fenner Nature Center. Dean Transportation will be providing a shuttle with wheelchair-accessible seating from Crego to Fenner Nature Center.
To schedule a school tour, volunteer at the festival, or for additional information, contact Fenner Nature Center at 517-483-4224 or www.MyNatureCenter.org.
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