Maple Syrup Festivals returns to Poynette

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 9:58 AM CDT
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POYNETTE, Wis. (WMTV) - The MacKenzie Center Maple Syrup Festival is returning to Poynette on Saturday after two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event typically welcomes anywhere from 2,000-4,000 people to the historic, 285-acre property in Columbia County, where more than 100 maple trees are tapped each March.

From 8 am – 2 pm on April 2, 2022, the public can come learn about the process of tapping the trees and making the syrup. There will also be “live music, horse drawn wagon rides, interpretative displays, scavenger hunt, ice cream, and more,” according to event organizers.

“The whole reason we do this is to show the connection that we have with the land, with the maple trees, and to help kids get outdoors and see rich heritage that belongs to Wisconsin and to the land that we have here,” said Aaron Loenhorst, Park Manager for the MacKenzie Center.

Visitors can take a look inside the “Sugar Shack” where the sap is placed in “The Arch Stove” and over the span of several hours, boils down until the concentration becomes thick. This technique was born out of the Civil War Era.

“We go through the science, looking at the ecology of the trees and actual process of tapping. We go through the history and the cultural history of the Native Americans who were doing this long before we were in North America,” explained Loenhorst.

Loenhorst explained that the founder of the center, Harley MacKenzie, planted the trees across the property decades ago.

“We have several different species that we’re collecting from. We’ve got Sugar Maples, which generally the sap has a little bit higher of a sugar content. But we also have Red Maples, we have Black Maples, there are also a few Silver Maples,” said Loenhorst.

The 100-120 trees that were tapped are around 70 years old, which Loenhorst said is very mature for a maple tree and produced about 700 gallons of sap this March.

They do not sell the syrup made at the MacKenzie Center, because it is not FDA approved and is used mostly for educational purposes. However, they will offer real maple syrup that is FDA approved for purchase at the festival.

This year they are not offering the usual pancake breakfast due to COVID-19 concerns, but they will have different concessions available including hot dogs, brats, and baked goods.

The Sugar Maple is the state tree for Wisconsin. The Badger State is the fourth largest producer of maple syrup in the nation.

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