The Maple Syrup Festival is an annual event located just east of Salem, Indiana at the end of February and beginning of March. Parking and admission is free to this family event. The drive in the country, traveling through the hollows of southern Indiana, is a peaceful and scenic route just after exiting busy Interstate 65. The rush of cars is soon distant and hushed by the flow of hills and mature trees just after passing cows resting in the pastures of the farmettes. After following clearly marked signs, you have finally made it to the Maple Syrup Festival. Click here to see pictures.
Don’t look for sidewalks or even a paved parking lot – you are out in the country and in the mud after a wet winter in southern Indiana, so wear some boots and clothes you aren’t afraid to get a bit dirty in. There is a shuttle service – on a wagon being pulled by a gator by a guy who’s happy to be doing what he is doing, being friendly to the first guests of the day right down to the very last one. Or you can walk through the mud and have some fun – it’s all part of the experience! Bring your camera too!
Once you reach the main guest area, there is an information booth with a friendly staff member to answer any questions you might have or give directions on how to get to what, because there is a lot to see and do at the Maple Syrup Festival. This is a family owned and run business that grew from meager beginnings, and has grown into being the largest producer of maple syrup in Indiana. The folks who run and work the festival work hard, put in long days, and keep smiling through it all.
Stop in the dining area for some good, down home food.. A good warm up is a cup of hot maple tea. It has nice, delicate flavor, and is handed out free to all guests. Enjoy some fiddle playing and singing while you check out the dining menu. A large evaporator is working so guests can watch the water leaving the sap that has just been collected for the syrup making process. Children 5 and under eat breakfast free by the way. Choose from pancakes or waffles, and load it up how you please: strawberries, whip cream, ice cream, chocolate chips, or the favorite – maple syrup. Also you can choose to dine on a chicken or pork dinner. It’s all homemade and hot from the kitchen. There is coffee, hot chocolate, juice and a few other beverage choices to wash it all down.
The Sugar Shack store is full of maple syrup treats that are irresistible. There are old-fashioned maple candies, maple flavored hard candies, maple leaf suckers, maple butter, maple cotton candy and of course, all the maple syrup you can possibly imagine. There are four grades of maple syrup available in a variety of sizes and shapes of containers. You can even buy a gallon of maple syrup if you desire, which is such a worthy investment. Fresh, no artificial anything, honest to goodness, just made pure maple syrup. Hmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
Outside there are many choices to keep guests entertained and a chance to experience something new. Tours are given to explain and educate guests on how maple tree sap is collected, transported and made into maple syrup. There is a lot of time, hard work and equipment involved in the process for a large scale operation, and it’s quite interesting.
There are lots of games to play for kids of all ages. One old-time game is to stand on a log, with a sawdust-filled bag in your hand, facing an opponent, and see who can knock who off the log first while whopping the opponent with the bag. Throw rings onto deer antlers. Play corn hole. See if you can throw a hatchet and make it hit, and stay in a wooden target.
Take a turn with a partner using a saw to cut off a section off a cedar log. Once cut, some nice gentlemen will brand a maple leaf into the center of it for a unique souvenir. Make candles, do a maple leaf rubbing, feed the llama and sheep, buy unique handmade items from local artisans, take a tour and learn how maple syrup is made. Take a walk down by the stream and admire the water eroded banks and softly shaped stones in the streambed.
Come to the Maple Syrup Festival for the food, fun, scenery, pleasant people, fresh country air, friendly dogs and animals, and maple syrup straight from the tree. To get direction to the Maple Syrup Festival, click here – do not use mapquest!