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Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel to host Maple Madness

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Maple sap is collected from taps in trees.
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An actor plays the role of a pioneer who uses pure maple syrup. The pioneer is one of the stops along the Walk Through the History of Maple Sugaring.
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During a Walk through the history of maple sugaring, our guests learn how native Americans used maple syrup.

The harsh winter hasn't slowed the sap flowing at Beechwood Farms, which is set to host its Maple Madness this weekend.

The family-geared event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at the 134-acre property along Dorseyville Road.

Cost is $6 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Children younger than 2 can attend for free.

“Guests start with a pancake brunch that features pure maple syrup,” said Beechwood spokesperson Rachel Handel.

“Many kids who come to the event have never tried pure maple syrup — they've been raised on store-bought bottled brands.

“When they taste the real thing, their eyes light up.”

Beechwood Farms, headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, has been hosting Maple Madness for nearly 20 years.

The aim is to educate the public on the history of maple sugaring and the many ways syrup has been used throughout the years. Participants can take a guided hike where actors dressed as pioneers dole out lessons.

There are also stops where the audience can get a first-hand look at taps drilled into trees and the buckets of syrup beneath them.

Handel said the sap is the same consistency as water.

“It isn't very sweet,” Handel said. “It has to be placed in an evaporator where the excess water is steamed away before it turns into pure maple syrup.”

Tapping the trees does no damage, Handel said.

In some areas across the state, the taps aren't flowing quite as fast. The bitter cold winter slowed the season, but milder temperatures are expected to help producers catch up. Maple season lasts up to 10 weeks each spring.

“This time of year can always be tricky,” she said. “A few years ago, the event was held on a warm and sunny day. This year it's gone from 10 degrees one day to 50 the next.”

Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation for taps and production, with about 60,000 gallons of syrup generated last year.

Proceeds from the Beechwood event support the Audubon's mission to connect people to birds and nature.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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