The sweetest day in the mountains— No, it’s not Valentine’s Day
Hint: every pancake should have this topping!
Mountain State Maple Day showcases the sweetest industry in West Virginia: maple syrup! Get ready for flapjacks, delicious samples, and demonstrations!
Mountains of maples
If you’re like most people, you probably associate syrup with Vermont. But did you know that more untapped maple trees grow in West Virginia than anywhere else in America?
That’s a sweet opportunity for the state, and it’s getting even sweeter. Almost 90 West Virginian syrup producers participated in a recent USDA survey that reported an average yield of 125 gallons per tap — a total of 6,000 gallons.
Syrup producing is still a niche market, though. That’s why the WV Maple Syrup Producers Association exists.
“We provide workshops throughout the year in order to give producers the tools and resources they need to grow the maple industry,” said Cathy Hervey, secretary.
Mountain State Maple Day looms large on her calendar. The annual event is a statewide celebration that introduces folks to the wonders of pure syrup.
“Most people are only used to the store-bought kind, or fake ones made of corn syrup,” Hervey said.
There’s nothing like organic sugar from the wild, though. A classification system describes 4 different types of syrup: golden, amber, dark and very dark. Lighter ones are best for candy, while darker varieties enhance cooking recipes.
Syrup from West Virginia is distinctive, too, with a robust, full, rich flavor.
“It’s also unique in the sense that it’s not specific to one region. It’s made in all areas,” she said.
Fortunately, syrup sells itself. You don’t need to convince many folks to try it, even if they’ve been raised on the grocery variety.
Mountain State Maple Day hits all the right notes, too. The festivals will have all the pancakes you can eat, plus syrup tastings and delicacies like maple candy, maple cream, and maple-coated nuts.
You’ll also learn how this golden treat is harvested — Hervey’s favorite part of the festival.
“I love it when folks of all ages realize that pure West Virginia maple syrup comes directly out of a maple tree and that it’s boiled down to the correct consistency with nothing added.”
As you’ll find out, collecting syrup is no easy feat. Depending on the sugar content of your tree, you might need 50-70 gallons of sap just to make 1 gallon of pancake topping. It’s a time consuming and laborious process, too. Fortunately, modern devices — like miles of tubing, reverse osmosis machines, and vacuum pumps — help.
Other highlights include a kids’ scavenger hunt (with free maple cotton candy) and sugar shack demonstrations. The warm, inviting aroma of maple from the evaporators is simply delicious!
“The smiles on everyone’s faces as they arrive and depart are priceless,” Hervey said.
If you can’t get enough local maple syrup, check out West Virginia’s farms. Most have online shops. Order anything from syrup to sorghum!
- Frostmore Farm in Dunmore has a sugar shack that’s more than 100 years old! Besides maple syrup, they have flavored treats like candy, nuts, cream, balsamic vinaigrette, and soda!
- Family Roots Farm in Brooke County has been in the Hervey family since the 1770s. They have syrup (which earned a perfect score at the International Maple Conference), candy, sorghum syrup, and vegetables in season.
- Cedar Run Farm in Pleasants County sells syrup by the quart and pint. You can also order keepsake glass jars and— best of all— cinnamon-infused maple syrup.
This post was last updated on March 16, 2022