For the second year in a row, the National Maple Syrup Festival will be here in Brown County, and it’s just around the corner — a little more than two weeks away to be exact.
As the March 5 and 6 festival dates inch closer, the maple excitement continues to grow. Festival organizers and committee members have been busy preparing for the upcoming festivities, hoping to attract visitors to the area and gain exposure on a larger scale for Brown County.
Not only does the festival provide a great opportunity to bring the local community together in support and celebration, but it also will help boost Brown County’s economy during a time when business tends to be a little slower.
The National Maple Syrup Festival will be a grand gala of all things maple, corralling maple sugar producers and hobbyists, maple syrup connoisseurs, visitors and local residents of all ages for a weekend full of fun events.
Originating in Medora in 2010, the festival moved to Brown County in 2015. Geographically, Indiana holds the farthest southern and western position in the United States’ Maple Sugar Belt, meaning as winter gives way to spring, the sap flows first in Indiana’s maple stands.
As Indiana’s most densely forested county, Brown County is an ideal location for the National Maple Syrup Festival as it is rich in natural resources, home to a wide variety of maple trees and reflects the pioneering essence and history of maple sugar production.
A hit last year, the National Maple Syrup Festival is back in 2016 bigger and better than before, with exciting new activities and a central hub in Brown County State Park.
One of this year’s new additions is Tap the Town on Feb. 27. Tap a maple tree in the middle of town during this one-of-a-kind experience taking place the weekend before the festival.
This unique, hands-on event includes a brunch buffet at Creekside Retreat, a tree-tapping demo, a visit to a local maple farm and a commemorative bottle of pure Indiana maple syrup. Learn the ropes of tapping before searching out the perfect tree in town. Insert your tap and watch the sap flow as you help kick off Brown County’s maple festivities. You’ll also receive sap production updates on your tree, and the sap collected will be used for demonstrations during the National Maple Syrup Festival.
The cost is $125 per couple or $150 for a group of four. A $20 fee will be charged for each additional person after that. Tickets are available online at browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival or in the Visitors Center.
With the sap freely flowing, maple mania will continue the following weekend, March 5-6, with the festival itself. Head to the Brown County State Park Lower Shelter (festival headquarters) for sugaring demonstrations, historical reenactments, guided maple hikes, Sap School, Maple Market, warm maple syrup flights, a maple syrup heist challenge course for kids, Sugaring for Small Folks, a beer and wine garden, food, live music and so much more.
Don’t forget to check out the pancake breakfast at the Brown County High School on Saturday and Sunday, as well as various Maple on the Menu dishes that will be served up around town too. Special Maple on the Menu dishes will be available for three weekends: Feb. 26-28, March 4-6 and March 11-13.
National Maple Syrup Festival events will take place Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend admission is $10; children 6 and younger are free. Board the Maple Motor Coaches in town for a park tour ending at the festival gates. Minimal parking also will be available within the state park.
Festival tickets can be purchased online at browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival, at the festival gate or in the Visitors Center. Be sure to stop by the Visitors Center before Feb. 29 for buy-one-get-one festival tickets.
Of course, any festival relies on a strong team of volunteers. Do your part to help out the festival and your county by signing up to volunteer. Let’s come together to support the event, ensure its success, and to show others what Brown County is all about. Plus, volunteers will receive one free admission to the pancake breakfast, two free tickets to the festival and free shuttle service to the state park. Sign up online at browncounty.com/maple-volunteers, call the Visitors Center at 812-988-7303, or stop in to schedule your shift!
The sap starts here and so does the fun. Mark your calendars for these exciting upcoming events and be sure to join in Brown County’s maple mania.