WATERLOO — It's that time of year again. Trees across southeast Michigan are waiting to be tapped for the production of rich maple syrup.
If you've always wanted to know about the process of making the sweet syrup that enhances favorite foods from pancakes and waffles to candy, look no further. Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson is teaming up with the Eddy Discovery Center in Waterloo on March 11 for the first annual Waterloo Maple Festival.
The event is the brainchild of Heather Price, executive director of Sandhill Crane, as well as representatives of the Gateway Communities Initiative group, who market the Waterloo-Pinckney recreation areas and the communities surrounding them.
"We've been coming up with ideas on how to market the area to tourists," Price said. "Our focus is to draw people to our natural areas while also bringing commerce to local muncipalities like Dexter and Chelsea."
Sunday's event will include a syrup demonstration at the Eddy Discovery Center from 1-3 p.m. Naturalist Tom Jameson will share his techniques for do-it-yourself maple syrup making. Following a viewing of the film Maple Sugar Farmer, he will lead visitors on a short walk to show how to identify maple trees and to demonstrate proper tapping techniques. The cost is $2 per person or $5 per family. Advance registration is requested by calling 734-475-3170.
From noon to 6 p.m. Sandill Crane will offer tastings of its limited edition dessert wine made with maple sap and syrup. In addition, the winery’s cafe' will feature sweet and savory dishes made with maple, including Sugar Snow Sorbet, a dessert made by Zingerman's Creamery. Admission for the sampling is free to the public.
"Maple syrup making has deep roots in Michigan," Price said. "It goes all the way back to the Native Americans and it's highly popular this time of the year."
Price said the festival is sure to attract maple syrup fans from as far away as Detroit and Grand Rapids, as well as other areas across the state.
"Most people don't know how maple syrup is harvested, or they buy the imitation stuff," she said. "Our festival is a great way for visitors to get a feel for this tradition in Michigan."
For more information, call 734-475-3170 or visit http://www.sandhillcranevineyards.com/.