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50th annual Maple Syrup Festival begins at Hueston Woods this weekend

By Hannah Fierle, For The Miami Student

The Hueston family built Hueston Woods State Park property around the production of maple syrup. The 50th annual Maple Syrup Festival is a celebration of the park's origins and history.

"This event is important because maple syrup is integral to the origins of the park," said naturalist Shawn Conner. "It's extremely rare in Ohio anymore to have a mature forest, and one of the main reasons it was never cut down was because of the Hueston family's maple syrup production."

Beginning with a delicious pancake breakfast at the lodge, visitors are then invited to tour many of the historical establishments on the property. The property boasts a historical pioneer barn, built in the 1800s, featuring antique farm equipment. These historical sites and artifacts are managed by the Oxford Museum Association.

Visitors are then taken on a hayride into the Sugar Bush, where they can hike the trail and see the maple trees in order to learn about the maple syrup production firsthand. Guests can view the buckets hanging in the maple trees and watch as sap is collected to make syrup.

"This event celebrates a lot of history and it brings people out to the park, showing them how things were a long time ago. People are so rushed these days so it's a nice change of pace to show them how things may have been in a simpler time," said Lori Jennings, assistant park manager of Hueston Woods.

Of course, sampling the maple syrup is also a part of the tour.

"This event is a great way to get people out of the house, to breathe some fresh air and take a walk in the woods," said Jacki Schriever, administrative professional at Hueston Woods.

This educational and interactive event attracts families with young children and youth organizations,

The festival expects as many as 800 guests each of the four days, with a projection of as many as 3,000 guests between the two weekends.

The festival will take place March 5 to 6 and March 12 to 13. The pancake breakfast is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the cost of $6 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. The maple syrup tours are from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m., at no cost.