Sweet fun on tap at Hale Farm
|Hale Farm & Village Site Manager Jason Klein is shown explaining the process of boiling maple sap to make syrup.|
|Hale Farm & Village Site Manager Jason Klein demonstrates tapping a maple tree for sugar Feb. 19. He is using a period brace with a modern bit.|
|Shown is the Sugar House at Hale Farm, which is equipped with a wood-burning parallel flow evaporator that converts the sap to syrup.
|Photo: Dale Dong|
Site Manager Jason Klein said tapping trees for sap to make maple syrup and sugar needs just the right conditions.
“Typically, we look for it to be below freeing at night and then 40 degrees during the day,” Klein said. “The sun makes it flow very well. It’s been so cold, so I think the run will be more toward beginning and middle of March, which will work out perfect for us.”
The timing means that those who attend the upcoming Maple Sugar Festival and Pancake Breakfasts will be able to see Hale Farm staff in action as they work to extract sap from between 50 and 100 trees on the property, Klein said.
The event will take place during two weekends, March 15-16 and 22-23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those who attend will be able to see demonstrations on tree tapping and sap-to-syrup production techniques, as well as tree and oxen talks, Klein said.
In addition, C.O. Hale’s sugaring journal, his sugaring chair and a 1930 newspaper article and cartoon will be on display during this year’s festival. C.O. Hale was an active member of the community and spoke proudly of the historic bounty of the Cuyahoga Valley, Hale Farm officials said.
“Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) is eager to share Mr. Hale’s work and experiences with the community,” said Kelly Falcone-Hall, interim CEO of WRHS, of which Hale Farm is part. “The Maple Sugar Festival gives guests the opportunity to get away from the bustle of the city and discover the bustle and hard work of harvesting the sugar and making maple syrup at Hale Farm & Village.”
Also included in the admission price is a full breakfast presented by Bob Evans Restaurants in the Gatehouse. Klein said the meal includes pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee.
The sap that is made into syrup at Hale Farm is available for tasting, but it’s not made in large enough quantities to use at the breakfast, Klein said.
“We hope to be able to do that someday, and we’re working in that direction,” Klein said. “It’s quite a process.”
Spectators will have a chance to see and compare past and present techniques for turning sap into syrup and sugar.
“Although it hasn’t changed much, the apparatus is a little different,” Klein said.
The festival weekends serve as the first events at Hale Farm for the year, Klein said. All of the site’s craftsmen and artisans will be on hand, as well as the team of oxen and baby chicks.
“We also bring some of the livestock out of their hibernation,” he said.
The festival will take place “snow or shine,” he added.
Visitors also can attend the festival by train during the second weekend of the event, March 22-23. The Maple Sugar Express, operated by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, will run each weekend. For more information or to purchase combination tickets, go to www.cvsr.com.
The Marketplace at Hale Farm & Village will be open for shopping during the festival. The Marketplace features products handmade by the artisans at Hale Farm, including blown glass and pottery, Ohio-made maple sugar and other local items and souvenirs.
Tickets for the Maple Sugar Festival are available in advance at www.halefarm.org or at 330-666-3711. Tickets also are available at the entrance. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-12. Member ticket prices are $5 for each family member. Ticket prices include the pancake breakfast, which is served until 3 p.m. each day. Breakfast-only tickets are also available for $5 each on event days.
Hale Farm also is prepping for its other events this year. Next up will be “A Fugitive’s Path: Escape on the Underground Railroad” April 5 and 12.
Klein said the program has visitors play the role of a fugitive slave and go to a number of different vignettes as they make their way to freedom. Advance reservations are required for the program and may be made by calling 330-666-3711, ext. 1720.
Also coming up this spring is the Legacy Award Benefit May 17. The Civil War re-enactors of the Army of Ohio and the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry will be honored. The group is based at Hale Farm, located at 2686 Oak Hill Road. Patron tickets are $125 and general admission tickets are $75.
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