By Holly Shanks
CLICK HERE to view the slide show from this years Maple Sugar Festival
The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates that nearly 6000 people attended the 16th Annual Maple Sugar Festival. Visitors expressed various reasons for attending the festival. Many said the weather was a main factor with temperatures reaching nearly 70 degrees. Also mentioned was bringing the kids outdoors in the nice weather for a fun field trip.
The festival was started in 1999 as a way to bring visitors to Rockwoods Reservation during the winter months. Visitors could visit many booths and exhibit areas all showcasing different aspects relating to creating maple syrup. The experiences included items, such as how to identify and tap trees without causing harm, processing the sap into different products, and a variety of children’s activities.
To make one gallon of maple syrup it takes 40 gallons of sap. The sap is 97 percent water and only three percent sugar. It takes many hours to boil down the gallons of sap to condense the sugars.
Trees must be at least ten inches in circumference to have one tap introduced. Trees that are 19 inches can maintain two taps and 24 inches and above can maintain three taps. However, never more than three taps should be used on one tree. After the taps are removed the tree will naturally plug each hole created by a tap.
Only a small amount of sap is taken from each tree, which allows yearly tapping of individual trees. The trees are not harmed and the process is considered a sustainable use of natural resources