Head to Preble County’s Hueston Woods State Park this weekend or next to learn more about the local syrup production, both past and present, at the park’s 57th Annual Maple Syrup Festival.
“For us, we would not exist without maple syrup,” Hueston Woods Park Manager Kathryn Conner said while explaining the importance of the festival. Hueston Woods sports a 232-acre nature preserve of virgin beech maples, a never-before cut forest that used to be owned by the Hueston family, who created syrup and sugar from the trees dating back to the 1800s.
Today, Conner said the trees are still used to make local maple syrup and related products, just as it was when the Huestons operated, and the festival, which takes place on the first two full weekends of March, celebrates the history and continued operation.
About 4,000 people come to the festival each year.
Conner said visitors can kick off each day of the festival with an optional breakfast buffet that features fresh maple at the lodge for $9 and $7 for kids, which runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., before heading to the Acton Lake beach and getting a hay ride to a guided trail excursion.
“From there, you hike the trail with a guide, and that guide tells you all about the history of maple syrup, the process and production of maple syrup, how we tap here within the park, how early settlers did it, how native Americans would utilize maple syrup, and we tie it back in with the history of the park,” Conner said.
Conner said the hike will conclude with a maple syrup sampling at the park’s operational sugar house, where maple sap is boiled down into syrup. For folks interested in extending their visit, the park will have its new nature center open and has booked food trucks and vendors at the beach.
HOW TO GO
What: 57th Annual Maple Syrup Festival
Where: Hueston Woods State Park, 6301 Park Office Road, Preble County
When: March 4-5 and March 11-12
More: Schedule of events: https://enjoyoxford.org
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