For the 13th time, syrup madness is running wild in the community.
Last weekend and this, two Portage County sugarhouses -- Creekside Sugar Bush, 4119 New Milford Road, Rootstown, and Cash Farms, 7057 Virginia Road, Atwater -- are open as part of the Ohio Maple Producers Association's Maple Madness Drive-It Yourself Tour. People who go to either farm March 15-16 will receive a lesson on how maple syrup is made. Admission is free.
Brittany Waples of Creekside Sugar Bush said that Creekside has participated in the tours for three years, and that every year participation grows and she expects that trend to continue this year.
"Last year, we had about 400 people come out," Waples said. "This year we expect to see about 600 people."
The event is for all ages. Preschoolers are expected to show up at Creekside for the event, and senior citizens have scheduled a trip to Cash Farms, which also had about 400 people show up in 2013.
Waples said promotion and feedback have been good and that is why she expects to see more faces this time around.
Jason Cash of Cash Farms said that the making of maple syrup appeals to a diverse age range because the product is so good.
"I think older people remember a time when maple syrup was not as common as it is now. And I think the younger generation just thinks that maple syrup is really good to eat," he said.
The weather is a concern for the maple industry, too. Sap has not been flowing well at either location. For it to run in the trees, there needs to be a constant temperature change between day and night. This year there has been one temperature -- cold.
Waples said since starting maple syrup three years ago, the sugarhouse has expanded from 10 trees to almost 700 on the 50-acre farm. "Personally, I started tapping maple when I was 10 years old. We have expanded quite a bit since then," she said.
Cash Farms will offer free tractor rides to people who show up at the farm. Rides are at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. each day. Both farms offer a pancake breakfast for $3 and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. regardless of the weather.
While Creekside Sugar Bush and Cash Farms are the only two Portage farms participating in the tour, there are dozens of farms statewide. For more information or to see a brochure online, visit www.ohiomaple.org/maple-madness.html.