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Maine Maple Sunday a sure sign of Spring

HOULTON, Maine — While recent snowy weather leads one to believe otherwise, spring has officially arrived and with it is the sight of buckets hanging from maple trees collecting sap to turn into maple syrup.

To celebrate Maine’s maple industry, Maine Maple Sunday will be held this coming weekend (Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26).

Maine Maple Sunday is held the fourth Sunday in March each year. Participating sugar houses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

Two local maple syrup businesses — Bradbury Farm in Bridgewater and Spring Break Maple and Honey in Smyrna — will once again be bustling with activities over the two-day span.

Bradbury Farm, located on 202 Bootfoot Road in Bridgewater, will be hosting a variety of events for people to see how tree sap turns into maple syrup on both Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

“Bradbury Farm has been in operation for over 30 years and we will have samples of maple taffy on the snow, thanks to a fresh supply of snow that blanketed the area Monday,” said Bart Bradbury.

The sugar house and a tour of the business’ collection system will also be available, he said.

The up and down weather pattern has not helped with production.

“We had that warm snap the last week of February that got the sap flowing and we were able to collect sap and make our first batch of syrup for 2017,” Bradbury said. “That is earlier than normal for sure.”

But then a cold snap froze the flow around March 2 and it has yet to start up again, he added.

“As soon as the weather breaks the maple trees will be ready to go” Bradbury said. “We need to see temperatures back up to 40 degrees with cool nights around 20 degrees to have good sap flow. Last year was similar, we had a run of sap around the second week of March then the weather turned cold for a while before the season kicked in the last few days of March.”

In 2016, the company had a record year for production with over 1,000 gallons of maple syrup produced.

“We’ve installed a new reverse osmosis system at the farm this year that is saving both processing time and energy costs as it relates to processing the sap into maple syrup, so far it’s working really well,” he said.

For more information on Bradbury Farm, visit their website: http://www.bradburymaple.com/, call 429-8306 or visit them on Facebook.

Spring Break Maple and Honey, located at 3315 U.S. Route 2 in Smyrna, will also have a number of activities going on for Maple Sunday.

Spring Break Maple and Honey is the state’s largest producer of maple candy, according to owners Kevin and Kristi Brannen. The couple started Spring Break Maple and Honey in 1998 as a hobby, but the tradition of maple syrup making dates back to 1972 when Kevin learned the trade from his great uncle.

“The event will be much the same as prior years, but we will have a new specialty food prepared with our maple syrup,” Kristi Brannen said. “In years past we have had maple candied bacon. Each year we like to change what that specialty food feature is so customers can get new ideas for how to use maple besides just on their pancakes. We are always looking for great recipes as well if you have any you would like to share.”

Events slated at Spring Break Maple and Honey include: guided sugarbush/woodlot tour, Sunday, 1 p.m.; maple candy production facility tour; maple syrup production tours; maple product samples; and kids coloring contest.

For the sugarbush/woodlot tour, participants are encouraged to dress for the conditions, including a hat, gloves, snow pants and winter boots. The tour will be held regardless of the weather.

Some of the sweet eats and treats available to sample include: maple taffy on the snow; maple sundae made to order with locally made Houlton Farms Dairy ice cream; maple candy samples; foodie treat using maple (while supplies last); maple cotton candy; and maple syrup grades tasting. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Sarah’s House in memory of Lois Small Beaulieu.

Spring Break‘s maple candy was voted the best maple candy in North America at the International Maple Syrup Institute annual meeting in October 2013.

The addition of retail space, which has a viewing window so customers can watch the production of their added value products, has been a popular addition.  Maine-made gifts and unique gifts are still going to be their focus as well as customer service.

On Sunday, Spring Break will offer a children’s activity room will be set up and there will also be “sugar on snow” demonstrations with free samples. The business is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information visit their website at www.mainemapleandhoney.com or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/springbreakmapleandhoney. Or visit them at 3315 U.S. Route 2 in Smyrna Mills; Gift Shop hours are Wednesday through Saturday; phone is 757-7373 or email them at info@mainemapleandhoney.com.

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