One of the many sure signs of spring in Western New York is Maple Weekend.  The same sugar maple trees that produce those brilliant red, gold and orange leaves in the fall produce some of the best maple syrup.  According to the U-S Forest Service, there are more tappable maple trees in New York State than any other state in the country.

And we celebrate that annual tradition with Maple Weekend – a free event taking place March 19th-20th and April 2nd-3rd.  It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at maple producers across the state.

You can find a list of participating sugarhouses and maps online at www.mapleweekend.com. Bring the family to learn about tree tapping and boiling, see displays, and of course, have a chance to taste some syrup.

One popular route in Western New York stretches from Niagara County down through Cattaraugus County. Visitors can head from Wolf Maple of Middleport to Sweet Dream Maple Farm of Corfu to Merle Maple Farm of Attica to Arcade Center Farm Pancake House to Wright Farms of Farmersville, then close out the trip with pancakes and more at Sprague’s Maple Farms of Portville.

Sugar maple trees retain starches during the winter and as spring approaches those starches change to sugars.  The sugars are released into the tree sap and when a tree is tapped, a clear liquid runs out. When that liquid is boiled down, approximately 40 gallons of the sap produces a gallon of maple syrup.

New York Maple Producers manufactured 601,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2015, one of the highest production rates ever and 19% of the syrup produced in the entire country.

Maple syrup not only tastes good, but University of Rhode Island researchers found 20 compounds in maple syrup that possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.

Maple syrup also has other health benefits including calcium and potassium content – a quarter cup of maple syrup has more calcium than the same amount of milk and more potassium than a banana.

Fire halls, VFW's and other community groups all across Western New York will offer all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts over the two weekends.