What is the purpose of Family Fun Day articles?
I’m so glad you asked! I created the Family Fun Day series to show families local events they can attend together that are free or relatively low-cost. These events provide an escape from video games, cell phones, and television and promote family bonding. Best of all, these fun events are also educational, so everybody wins!
Have you been to one of my Family Fun Day events? Let me know in the comments! Here’s the next installment:
“Made in China”. We see it on everything – toys, computers, cell phones, food products. Now I ask you to think about the last time you saw something that was made in Ohio. Odds are it was something at a supermarket and not your latest iPhone. Ohio does have its share of exports and popular brand names, like Bob Evans, Malley’s Chocolates, and Proctor and Gamble. But one of Ohio’s sweetest exports is maple syrup. According to the USDA, Ohio is in the top ten for U.S. maple syrup production, accountable for nearly 150 gallons every season.1
This edition of Family Fun Day celebrates Ohio and its local maple syrup that is tapped right in your backyard.
2015 Ohio Maple Madness® Driving Trail
Since 2001, Ohio’s Maple Madness® Driving Trail has delighted young and old alike. Each year, the Ohio Maple Producers Association collects and compiles a list of locals who choose to open their doors and sugarhouses to educate the public and sell their delicious pure Ohio maple syrup. Last year, the trail consisted of nearly 50 stops in over 20 counties – including two in Pennsylvania! Geauga County is the primary hub of the action. Some of the stops are small family owned business, while others are commercial operations. No matter where you stop, it’s sure to be an experience the whole family can sink their sweet tooth into!2
Here are a few highlights for different counties. (Note that each place has its own days and hours of operation, so be sure to do some research before planning a trip. You can find a link to the complete list at ohiomaple.org.)
Ashtabula County – Bissell Maple Farm features free pancakes, horse-drawn carriage rides, a warm fireplace, and entertainment. Only March 14th and 21st. (3119 W. Water Street, Rock Creek, OH 44084; www.bissellmaplefarm.com)
Cuyahoga County – Rocky River Nature Center Sugar Bush is being presented in the Maple Grove Picnic Area. Enjoy an educational hike telling the history of maple sugaring, dating all the way back to the Native Americans. (24000 Valley Parkway, North Olmsted, OH 44070 – follow signs from the nature center.)
Geauga County – Geauga Park District’s Swine Creek Reservation lets you explore the sugarbush from noon to 4 while being led by costumed guides. Entertainment and treats are available in the lodge, too. (16004 Hayes Rd, Middlefield Township, OH 44062; www.geaugaparkdistrict.org)
BONUS – Visit Richards Maple Products for lots of free samples and maple candy making demonstrations at 10am and 2pm on Saturdays. (545 Water St., Rt. 6, Chardon City, OH 44024)
Lorain County – Knoble Brothers Farms Sugarhouse is a fourth generation operation, featuring displays of antique tapping products and free samples. (9950 Gifford Road, Amherst, OH 44001)
Medina County – March Maple Valley Farm offers a hayride to the woods where you can tour a dairy barn and see calves and cows at work. (8701 Hubbard Valley Road, Guilford Township, OH 44273)
Portage County – Cash Farms Pure Maple Syrup has free tours throughout the day and a wagon ride to the sugarbush, plus free samples. An all-day pancake breakfast is available for an additional cost. (7057 Virginia Road, Atwater Township, OH 44201)
- The Ohio Maple Madness® Driving Trail is presented two weekends – March 14th and 15th and March 21st and 22nd. Most stops on the trail are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but times do vary by location. On both Saturdays, select Amish sugarhouses will host pancake breakfasts at an additional cost.
- The majority of the stops on the driving trail are free of charge. Some larger sugarhouses may charge a small fee for admission.
- The complete list of stops can be found online at ohiomaple.org. Additional copies of the list should also be available at the various stops.
- Questions about the Maple Madness Driving Trail can be directed to the Ohio Maple Producers Association at 440-834-1415. You can also e-mail the OMPA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Most of the tours will be outside, so be sure to dress for the weather. Warm coats, boots, and winter accessories are a must. Don’t forget your gloves!
- There will be multiple opportunities to buy local and authentic maple products like syrup and sugar. Be sure to bring some cash in case you would like to support a local business!
- Please respect the privacy of the Amish community and refrain from taking pictures at Amish sugarhouses.
- If you have tried one maple syrup, you haven’t tried them all! Each sugarhouse’s syrup is as unique as a snowflake, so be sure to try lots of samples.
- What kind of foods do you enjoy eating with maple syrup?
- Is maple syrup a healthy food? (Not really. While it is a great natural sweetener and healthier for you that refined sugar, it still contains a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.)
- Maple syrup is a natural sweetener, so you could substitute it where you use regular sugar. Can you think of foods where you could substitute sugar for pure maple syrup?
- How does sap become maple syrup?
- Why is the harvest season for maple syrup in the winter?
- What is the difference between the grades of maple syrup?
- What is the difference between artificial maple syrup and pure maple syrup?
Be on the lookout for recipes in the comments section that incorporate maple syrup. If you buy any syrup on the tour, be sure to try one of the delicious recipes!