An annual celebration of heritage that is unique to our region returned this weekend, the Maple Festival at Asbury Woods.
The sugar maple trees found here are a staple of the area, and provide an important renewable, natural resource.
A festival that has taken place for decades has returned again in 2023.
Maple Fest at Asbury Woods takes place in the heat of maple syrup season and shows off one of the regions most treasured natural gems.
“There’s a whole lot of potential here in Pennsylvania that can be tapped, you know?” said Anthony Honeycutt, an agriculture teacher at Northwestern High School.
Sap season comes around each year and is brought on by specific conditions and is heavily weather dependent.
Those being freezing temperatures overnight, and then above freezing during the day.
“So right when we start to feel like spring is in sight, the trees also feel that and they start to release the sap,” Sarah Bennett, director of education and community programs.
WJET spoke with one local maple syrup manufacturer in Albion and they shared the process of creating it.
The boiling process is a long and arduous one, a key being the need to separate water molecules from the sap, isolating the sugar.
“We take that, we put it up in our head tank and it goes to our evaporator, kind of goes through a pre-warmer, goes to the evaporator, and then hours and hours later, we end up with our maple syrup coming out,” Anthony Honeycutt explained.
Honeycutt said that it’s such a unique opportunity for his students because they get to see how the raw sap transforms through the process. They then learn about the many products able to be made locally all from nature’s bounty.
“Erie is located right in the heart of the largest sugar maple region in the world, the only sugar maple region in the world. So, this is the place in the world where pure maple syrup is made. And so, learning about it right in the middle of that region is really important,” Sarah Bennett went on to say.
The maple season continues next weekend with the 20th Annual Northwest PA Maple Association’s Maple Taste and Tour.