LEXINGTON, Ky. – Maple syrup education and fun come to the forefront Feb. 5 when Kentucky producers open their facilities to the public for the third annual Kentucky Maple Day. Sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association, the day allows the public to visit Kentucky farms and sugarhouses to see how maple syrup is made and to purchase local maple syrup products.
In 1930, sugar was rationed in the Bluegrass State, forcing many who wanted maple syrup and sugar to try their own hand. Since that time, the number of those making their own syrup crept lower until the craft became almost a distant memory.
However, in recent years the state has seen a resurgence of production.
“The maple syrup industry in Kentucky is really growing,” said Billy Thomas, extension forester with the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Kentucky Maple Day is not only a great time for the public to learn more about our burgeoning syrup industry, but producers have told us that it has increased their recognition and business as well.”
Activities will vary at each location. Maple syrup producers will showcase their operations and offer pure maple syrup for sale. Some operations will also offer tours of their sugar bush, which is the stand of maple trees, and sap-collecting systems.
Maple trees are prolific in Kentucky. Though sugar maple is the tree people traditionally think of as a source for the syrup, red maple produces syrup, with no distinction in taste or quality. It’s also an industry ripe for those considering entering the business.
“We have more red maple that are an inch or larger in diameter than any other species in Kentucky,” said Jacob Muller, assistant professor of hardwood silviculture and forest operations extension in the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “I encourage landowners to think of their woods as an asset. There are many people in the state who have maple on their property who can take advantage of the trees’ benefits.”
Organizers recommend people call producers in advance if they have any questions about what to expect.
More information, including event times and a map of all participating farms, is online at https://ky-maplesyrup.ca.uky.edu/ky-maple-day.