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Maple Weekends shelved

NYS Maple Producers’ Association cancels popular event over COVID-19 concerns

SARANAC LAKE — The New York State Maple Producers’ Association Monday announced the cancellation of its annual Maple Weekends, which were scheduled to take place the next two weekends, March 21-22 and March 28-29.

“We had hoped to remain open to the public to continue that tradition for our community but what is happening right now is bigger than any one person or business, and we have a responsibility to proactively do our part to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19,” the association stated on its Maple Weekends Facebook page. “Even though many of our farms do not see dense crowds for Maple Weekend, we know the risk of remaining open does not outweigh our responsibility to serve the public.”

Member farms were already prepared for Maple Weekends; therefore, maple products are available for purchase at all locations. People are asked to call, email or shop online at their favorite farm for maple products.

“Individual locations may still be welcoming individuals or small groups to their sugarhouse, please contact the farm directly if you are interested in visiting,” the association stated.

Four maple producers in the Tri-Lakes region were on the schedule to host visitors for Maple Weekends: Black Rooster Maple in Keene, Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid, Mark Twain Maple Works in Saranac Lake and the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

New York State Maple Producers’ Association board members held a conference call Sunday evening to discuss the cancellation of Maple Weekends and made the decision at that time, according to Adam Wild, director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest on Bear Cub Lane in Lake Placid. He took part in the conference call.

“Each sugar maker is able to make their own decision (whether to open their doors to the public),” Wild said.

Cornell University decided to close the doors of the Uihlein Maple Research Forest sugarhouse to the public this week. That means no tours, yet people can still purchase maple syrup using the self-service station in front of the sugarhouse.

With nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing and daytime temperatures getting above 40 degrees, the sap has been flowing, and maple producers have been boiling for the past few weeks. And while the Uihlein Maple Research Forest is closed to the public, the maple crew is still producing maple syrup at every opportunity.

“We’re farmers,” Wild said. “We can’t let things just shut down, so we have to make hay while the sun shines, as they say.”

Since the property is used by Cornell University for research purposes, that research also needs to get done.

“If I don’t get it now, I miss out on an entire year,” Wild said. ‘We need to collect the sap to make syrup and get our product but also this is a research forrest, so I have to get the research data.”

New York State Maple Producers’ Association officials said they are optimistic that life will return to normal soon, once the spread of the coronavirus slows down. When that happens, they plan to set up an event to allow the public to visit maple producers.

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