Beechler's Sugar Bush is a modern sugaring facility and will be processing sap from approximately 8,500 taps. The family operation uses a stainless steel evaporator to boil sap and a reverse osmosis machine to speed the process. Sugarmakers since 2002, there are three generations of the Beachler family involved, and the camp will be serving free pancakes and sausage with fresh maple syrup during Maple Weekend. While there, guests will enjoy a walk through a modern sugar woods, see how trees are tapped, try a hand at drilling a tap hole the old-fashioned way, try a hand at being an old-fashioned lumberjack with a cross-cut saw, and several other activities. The camp will have maple syrup, maple cream, maple sugar, maple-roasted almonds, and other products available for sale, and will be giving away door prizes throughout the day. Also, all the sugar samples you can eat will be there for guests to enjoy.
Operated by Rebecca and Arthur Harris, Harris Sugar Bush is a 6,000-tap operation. It includes a full-service store offering maple products made on-site, including maple cream, maple candy, maple sugar, maple mustard, and maple cotton candy, in addition to locally made pancake/waffle mixes and other syrup-related items. The sugar camp operates with tubing and a vacuum system, a modern improvement on buckets hanging on trees, and guests will be able to see the full sap-to-syrup process.
Guests visiting the historic farmstead will be able to tour the sugaring operations and learn about the process, purchase do-it-yourself maple tree tapping kits and books related to maple syrup, and sample refreshments made with maple syrup. Jellies made onsite by volunteers also will be available to sample and purchase. Maple syrup will be available to purchase.
James Enser has been producing maple syrup at Sweet Tree Farms for 16 years. Now involving three generations of his family, and nearly 500 taps, the Wabash County sugar camp uses modern syrup-making techniques which guests will be able to watch. Everyone stopping by also will enjoy a free sample of warm, freshly produced syrup as part of their visit.
During Maple Weekend, guests will visit a 3,000-tap operation that has been in the family since 1910 and through five generations. Weather permitting, visitors will observe the complete maple process, from collecting sap to bottling. Participants will see an extensive tubing system used for collecting sugar water with the use of a vacuum pump, in addition to a reverse osmosis machine as it removes 75 percent of the water before it enters an oil-fired evaporator to condense the sap further.
Guests will see the automatic draw-off release the golden liquid from the evaporator, for the trip to the finishing pan for cooking to the precise thickness for pure maple syrup, then follow the syrup as it passes through the filter press into a water-jacketed canner and watch as syrup is bottled hot into containers.
Samples of pure maple products will be available for tasting, and a visit to the 1840’s log cabin will conclude the visit and allow guests to purchase pure maple products. Along with maple syrup in all sizes of containers, guests may purchase maple sugar, maple candy and maple cream.
“We started making syrup in 2014, and we really like it,” said Bennie King, who works 3,000 taps with potential for 600 more, with his father, Aaron King. “We make and sell maple syrup with the intent of making maple cream and maple candy,” he said. Maple Cliff Farm is four miles southwest of Shades State Park, at 10924 N 750 E, in Waveland, and on March 10 the Kings will demonstrate custom maple syrup cooking. Guests will see modern sap collection, smell and taste syrup hot from the evaporator, enjoy a free tour and be able to purchase the freshest-possible maple products.
Lisa and Kevin Hart and their twins, who are fourth-generation on this farm, will play host on their 103-acre sugar bush, a classified forest with some adventurous terrain. Guests will see modern sap collection and how advances within the maple industry are helping to revive a lost American tradition. Visitors can follow a drop of sap from the trees to the bottle, watching the wood-fired evaporator and smelling the sap as it is boiled into sweet syrup. Guests will enjoy a free sample of fresh syrup, and Maplewood Farms’ market store will be open.
At Zimmerman Sugar Camp, visitors will climb on a wagon, pulled by a team of horses, for a hayride to the 20-acre woods, where they will see the vacuum pump at work on more than 1,000 taps. Guests will tour the sugar house, watch the steam roll, and Ethan Zimmerman will have freshly made syrup for sale. The sugar bush is on the south side of 18th Road, and parking is alongside the road, or one-quarter mile east of the sugar camp lane, at the farmstead at 6262 E. 18th Road, in Argos. Wagon rides leave the staging area once per hour, on the hour.
The Indiana Maple Syrup Association celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015. It is comprised of nearly 150 Indiana syrup producers, with strong representation from the central and northern parts of the state, where larger maple stands grow naturally. Centuries ago, American Indians were the first to make maple sugar on this land now known as Indiana. IMSA welcomes anyone as a member, including syrup-making hobbyists and those simply interested in the history, process and product. There are 14 states in the U.S. Maple Belt, and Indiana "sugar makers," as they are called, produced 11,000 gallons of syrup in 2016. IMSA's largest presence is in the Pioneer Village throughout the entire run of the Indiana State Fair, where since 1993 members have sold pure Indiana maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream, and maple sugar from its "Sugar Shack." Its second-largest annual program is Maple Weekend.