The maple syrup industry is big in the great lakes region, and it has a rich history right here in our backyard.
To celebrate and promote maple goods and their value to the agricultural community, Northwestern School District will host the fourth annual Lake Erie Maple Expo on Friday, Nov. 6, and Saturday, Nov. 7.
The event will be held at the high school and various other locations in the Albion area.
“What’s really great about the Maple Expo, is that maple syrup an agricultural commodity to the great lakes area,” said Anthony Honeycutt, Northwestern High School agricultural studies teacher and Albion Future Farmers of America (FFA) adviser. “It’s a thriving opportunity for kids to have a hobby, or maybe even make a career of this unique agricultural opportunity.”
The event is co-sponsored by Northwest PA Maple Syrup Producers Association, Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers Council, Ohio Maple Producers Association, Western New York State Maple Producers and the Albion FFA.
Honeycutt said there would be speakers from all over the United States and Canada, some talking about importing and exporting maple products internationally.
“We have maple trees and maple syrup readily available here, so we are a little naïve to the value of it,” Honeycutt said. “A gallon of syrup in other countries is super expensive.”
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, attendees have the opportunity to visit several local sugar shacks for workshops and tours.
Hurry Hill Maple and Museum in Edinboro will have the museum open for tours.
Programs include a maple tubing and vacuum workshop at Triple Creek Maple, 9225 Fillinger Road, Cranesville, a boiling workshop at Casbohm Maple and Honey, 9750 Sherman Road, Albion, and a beginner backyard-sugaring lesson at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 80 Third Ave., Albion.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, seminar registration and a maple tradeshow start at 8 a.m. at the high school, 200 Harthan Way, Albion.
An opening ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading will be there to acknowledge the importance of the maple syrup industry in Pennsylvania.
Reading will also recognize Northwestern students and faculty for a $25,000 grant they received on Oct. 19, from the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.
The money will be used to develop and construct a sugar shack that students will use to make maple syrup as part of the school's agricultural studies program.
Seminars throughout the event will cover everything from boiling syrup, to making maple marshmallows, the history of maple syrup and how to make a maple syrup hobby into a profitable business, and will be given throughout the day at the high school.
“There’s a whole lot of maple trees in our area, and a large percent of trees that are not tapped,” Honeycutt said. “There’s a big potential for growth.”
Closing ceremonies will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and door prizes will be handed out then.
A full schedule of the Lake Erie Maple Expo events can be found at www.pamaple.org/LEME.