For those interested in seeing how maple syrup is made and tasting its use in foods and beverages ranging from traditional pancakes to barbecue, cotton candy and lattes, Saturday’s first installment of Mountain State Maple Days can make it happen.
More than a dozen sugar houses across the state — including some within a short drive of Charleston — are opening their doors to interested visitors during the first installment of Maple Days, sponsored by the West Virginia Maple Syrup Producers Association. A second day with similar, but not identical, events will take place on March 16.
A number of restaurants, breweries and other venues across the state are also hosting events on Saturday showcasing West Virginia-produced honey.
“If you want to taste real maple syrup while supporting a local farmer, these days are for you,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, whose agency is helping publicize the events.
Last year, West Virginia maple syrup producers maintained 61,000 taps that produced 9,000 gallons of syrup, worth about $330,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. In the opening decade of this century, production lingered in the 2,000 gallon range.
While maple syrup has been made in West Virginia for centuries, commercial operations are relatively new. In 2010, the state Department of Agriculture listed only four commercial producers statewide, although quantities of syrup were produced at more than 70 farms.
Fifty years ago, nearly all maple syrup producers were located in the state’s northern mountains. Since then, syrup production has moved into the mid-Ohio Valley, Northern Panhandle and southwestern foothills.
Producers taking part in this year’s Maple Days tours can be found from Wellsburg, in the Northern Panhandle’s Brooke County, to Brooks in Summers County, 250 miles to the south; and from Prichard, along the Kentucky border in Wayne County, to Frost, near the Virginia line in Pocahontas County.
Producers taking part in Saturday’s events, all of whom will have syrup and other maple items for sale in addition to offering activities, include:
- Hill n’ Hollow Family Farm and Sugarworks. Garretts Bend Road, Griffithsville, Lincoln County. Syrup-making and tapping demonstrations, tastings. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Estep Branch Sugar Bush. 67 Estep Branch Road, Big Ugly, near Harts, Lincoln County. Tours, demos, maple barbecue sandwiches. Visitors urged to call ahead for hours at 304-855-3097.
- Ronk Family Farm. 725 Whispering Pines Drive, Alum Creek, Lincoln County. Tapping and cooking demos, pancakes, maple sausage, maple cotton candy, syrup, pony rides for kids. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Flanigan Family Maple. off Lower Gragston Creek Road just north of Prichard, Wayne County. Tours, demos, tastings. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Toms Creek Family Farm. Toms Creek Road, Wayne, Wayne County. Demos and tastings. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- MoonStruck Maple. Brooks Mountain Road, Brooks, Summers County. Pancake breakfast, tapping demos, tours. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Indian Water Maple Co. 1761 Burgess Hollow Road, New Creek, Mineral County. Tours, demos. Call 304-788-1831 for hours.
- Heasley Homestead Maple Syrup. 2988 Compressor Station Road, Bruceton Mills, Preston County. Tours, demos. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- M&S Maple Farm LLC. 2213 Mozer Road, Upper Tract, Pendleton County. Tours, demonstrations of tapping, cooking, filtering, reverse osmosis, bottling and sampling of products. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Cool Hollow Maple Farm, 627 Cool Hollow Road, Sugar Grove, Pendleton County. Sugar house tours, samples. Noon to 4 p.m.
- Frostmore Farm. 141141 Frost Road, Dunmore, Pocahontas County. Tours, demos. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Cedar Run Farm. 3305 Clark Run Road, Friendly, Tyler County. Tours, demos, signature maple dishes from Sistersville’s Boxcar Restaurant. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Sweet Creek Sugarworks. 3101 Cow House Road, Sistersville, Tyler County. Tours, demos, tastings. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Bowers Maple Farm. 9 miles south of Petersburg on U.S. 219, Grant County. Tours, demos. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Blue Rock Farm. 12005 Adolph Road, Mill Creek, Randolph County. Demos, tours, snacks. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Restaurants offering West Virginia honey items and entrees on Saturday include Custard Stand outlets, serving maple ice cream, maple shakes and maple syrup-topped barbecue; the Trailhead Coffee Shop in Davis, featuring maple syrup-infused drinks and maple pastries; Chestnut Revival in Hinton, maple lattes with syrup from nearby MoonStruck Maple.
For more information about Mountain State Maple Days events, go to the West Virginia Maple Syrup Producers Association website at www.wvmspa.org and click on their interactive locator event map.