The Big 400 Maple Festival takes place annually in March
March is maple syrup time! The communities of The Big 400 are teaming up to celebrate maple syruping in southern Michigan with a festival of events throughout the region. The festival includes pancake breakfasts, tours of tapping areas and the syruping process, the release of a local maple wine and a maple stout, lots of good things to eat with a maple twist.
Chelsea Alehouse (Chelsea) – The menu includes pancakes, and bacon… with real maple syrup. They have also brewed a craft beer for the occasion, Maple Stout, which will be available throughout the day.
Proceeds from the breakfasts go to support The Big 400 in guiding tourists to our region.
MAPLE TOURS AND INTERPRETATION
The sugar maple has long been the preferred tree for tapping due to its high yields of sugar-rich sap. But what if there are no sugar maples to tap on your property? Never fear! As part of the Big 400’s spring celebration, join the Legacy Land Conservancy for a guided hike to discover the many varieties of trees that can be tapped to produce novel and delicious syrups you won’t find on any supermarket shelf.
Free. E. Main Street on north side just after Maple intersection, Stockbridge
Hudson Mills Metropark, Hudson Mills Metropark Activity Center
near Dexter, Saturdays and Sundays, Take a journey to the sugar bush and experience how maple syrup has been made over the years. Tap a tree, and then see the sap being boiled into syrup. Stay and enjoy an all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast. Please pre-register. (734) 426-8211. Metropark vehicle entry permits are required in all Metroparks. 8801 N. Territorial Road, Dexter MI 48130 734.426.8211
MAPLE DISHES AT LOCAL RESTAURANTS
A number of local restaurants will be featuring dishes (and beverages) made with real maple syrup:
Cleary’s Pub – Maple-Balsamic Glazed Swordfish Steak, served over grilled asparagus with a baked sweet potato, Maple-Bacon Martinis and Maple Crown Manhattans | 133 S. Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118 734.475.1922
Chelsea Alehouse – House brewed Maple Stout! Maple Bacon Brownie with Calder Dairy Ice Cream, Candied Bacon and Maple Syrup | 420 N Main St #100, Chelsea, MI 48118 734.433.5500
Common Grill – Grilled Maple Pork Tenderloin with Michigan Dried Cherry Chutney | 112 S Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118 734.475.0470
Sandhill Crane Vineyards, (Jackson), 11 am – 7 pm, A highlight of the Maple Festival is featuring Sandhill Crane Vineyards’ limited edition dessert wine made with local maple sap and syrup. Annie’s Mapleshine is maple wine aged in vintage in bourbon barrels from the Grand Traverse Distillery. The result is a rich fortified wine with hints of oak and bourbon. Light and not too sweet, Annie’s Mapleshine pairs beautifully with light desserts, sweet cheeses, and the winery’s famous Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. The winery also offers live music that day from 2:00 to 5:00 pm with local musician Alex Mendenall. 4724 Walz Road, Jackson, MI 49201, 517.764.0679
Sandhill Crane Vineyards – A wide range of maple entrees, salads, maple wine cocktails, maple coffee drinks, and desserts during the Maple Festival | 4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201 517.764.0679
MAPLE SYRUMPING SUPPLIES
Chelsea Farmers Supply – Long time suppliers to local maple syrup producers. They carry a full line of maple syrup supplies from “how to” books to tree tape, spiles, buckets, filters, and tubing. Everything you need to tap your own trees and make maple syrup. 122 Jackson St, Chelsea, 734.475.1777
OTHER MAPLE EVENTS DURING MARCH
2nd Sunday Jazz Brunch, Sandhill Crane Vineyards
Stay overnight in the area to enjoy Sandhill Crane Vineyards’ 2nd Sunday Jazz Brunch the day after the festival. The March brunch menu features dishes made with local maple syrup. Sample menu includes Sugar Pancakes with Maple-Bacon Butter, Apple-Cheese Panini with Maple Dijon Sauce, Maple Granola with Locally Made Vanilla Yogurt, Baked Brie with Maple-Roasted Cranberries, Maple Latte, and two maple wine cocktails: Sunday Nap & Hibernation. Jazz music by the Trent Harris quartet. Call 517.764.0679 to make reservations. 4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201 517.764.0679
Maple Tree Tapping Demonstrations | Eddy Discovery Center
It’s time for that traditional rite of spring – tapping maple trees. Watch a short film about how maple syrup is made, and then go on a guided walk to see various methods of collecting sap and how it is boiled down to make syrup. Antique equipment for making syrup will be on display from the Waterloo Farm Museum, and maple products will be available for purchase. Contact the Center at (734) 475-3170 for more information. Cost: Free. 17030 Bush Rd, Chelsea, MI 48118, 734.475.3170
Introduction to Maple Syrup Producation | Dahlem Environmental Education Center
Join us for our annual celebration of the sugar maple tree and its sweet gifts! This family-friendly program is a great introduction to the seasonal delights of maple sugar production. Learn how to identify the right trees, how to tap and collect sap, and visit he sugar shack to see (and taste) the sap being boiled down into syrup. Lots of hands-on activities. Guided tours leave every 20 minutes. Guided walks head out every 20 minutes. Call to reserve your spot. 7117 South Jackson Road, Jackson, MI, 49201 517.782.3453
Sugaring & Shearing Festival, Ella Sharp Museum
Welcome Spring’s arrival at the Ella Sharp Museum’s annual Sugaring & Shearing Festival. Rain or shine, there is plenty to do indoors and out! Farm Lane will be bustling with activities such as Puddingstone Farm’s petting zoo, sheep shearing, traditional craftsmanship, and docents in all of the historical buildings. Don’t miss the “sap-to-syrup” demonstrations at the sugar bush, and Haigh’s Maple Syrup will be back in the Country Store selling their delicious products. 3225 Fourth St, Jackson, MI 517.787.2320
A Taste of the Irish Hills
Tickets may be purchased online at IrishHills.com, at the Brooklyn-Irish Hills chamber office, Clark Lake Golf Course, ERA Reardon Realty, Captain Chuck’s Sandbar & Grill, Salvaged Decor or the Brooklyn Moose Lodge. The first 300 tickets receive a pub glass filled with goodies. There are 23 participating businesses this year, so sample some of the best cuisine in the Irish Hills over two days…that means no cooking for two days straight! There will also be the AfterTaste at the Brooklyn Moose Lodge from presented by the Old Irish Mill featuring food, Irish themed fireworks, live music and lots of fun. Taste ticket holders get in free. Visit IrishHills.com for a list of participants.