Last Saturday, our family went to the Maple Sugar Festival at Hale Farm & Village. We enjoyed learning how Maple Syrup was made, touring the farm and pioneer village, and eating a delicious pancake breakfast.
Typically, when I think of a festival, I envision numerous food vendors serving fair food (i.e. elephant ears, fresh squeezed lemonade, sausage dogs, etc.), rides, and various types of entertainment held at specific times throughout the day. While these types festivals are fun, it's not the experience you will get at the Hale Farm Maple Sugar Festival.
Instead the Maple Sugar Festival is designed to be a fun and educational experience. Guests tour the property at their own leisure, stopping at various “stations” and buildings where volunteers dressed in period clothing explain the process of making maple syrup, what a blacksmith does, what life was like in the pioneer days, and much more.
Learning How Maple Syrup is Made
The entire reason we decided to go to Hale Farm was so our children could learn how maple syrup is made. We LOVE pancakes at our house and figured they would find it fascinating that the syrup we use comes from a tree.
We started our day walking through the woods where all the trees are tapped. My daughter liked pointing out all the buckets. We stopped at an American Indian Sugar Camp demonstration and got to hold a block of maple sugar. Then we headed to the Sugar House were they were processing the sap.
Our next stop was to see the the two oxen they had in the pasture. Our kids really enjoyed getting to pet the huge animals. The volunteers explained how the early pioneers used the oxen to pull the wagon to collect the sap from the maple trees.
Touring The Village
After learning how Maple Syrup is made, we decided to check out the Pioneer House.
Inside the Pioneer House, the volunteers were demonstrating how the pioneers cooked their food over a fire. My kids were surprised that there was no kitchen and that a family with 9 children had lived in the two room house. It really made us appreciate the comforts we have today.
The Blacksmith Shop was my sons favorite stop of the day. We watched the blacksmith heat up the metal hinge in the fire and then use a mallet to hammer it into shape. I can't imagine the amount of patience it would take to be a blacksmith.
Our next stop was the Stow House General Store. While there we sampled some maple syrup and the kids played with various wooden toys that would have been used during the pioneer days.
During the last part of our tour we visited the church and a one room log school house. It really is amazing to observe how much things have changed since the early 1900s.
We ended our trip by enjoying a pancake breakfast sponsored by Bob Evans. The breakfast was well organized and each person got a piece of fruit, pancakes, sausage links, and a drink. They had hot maple syrup for the pancakes as well as a sugar free option for those who can't have maple syrup. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal.
Planning Your Trip
- If you're planning to attend the Maple Sugar Festival, be sure to stop by Bob Evans to pick up a $2 off coupon.
- The path in the woods was muddy in spots. Bring shoes you don't mind getting dirty.
- Set realistic expectations. Because our kids are still relatively young, they don't have the attention span to listen to the demonstrations for a long period of time. Therefore, we only stopped for a short while at each location. Older kids would probably enjoy listening for longer.
- Be prepared for lots of questions as children are very curious when they see things they aren't used to. For example, our kids were very curious about what the pioneers used when they had to go to the bathroom since the house didn't have any.
You may also be interested in: Maple Syrup Festivals across Northeast Ohio