Tap into Sapsucker secrets with festival

The hugely popular Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival is back at the BC Forest Discovery Centre for a seventh year on Saturday, Feb. 1. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this community surges in to see how sap is tapped from local bigleaf maples and turned into syrup that rivals the flavor of any produced in the Eastern provinces.

The Discovery Centre has partnered with the Sapsuckers, a group of Island maple syrup producers and this event is just about the only place people can purchase bigleaf maple syrup.

With many experts from the group on hand, visitors can explore various aspects of maple sugaring in a fun festival atmosphere with live entertainment and the aroma of hot syrup from the evaporator filling the air.

Tree-tapping demos with members of the Sapsuckers, syrup tasting and mini-workshops will occur throughout the day and property owners will be able to get start-up kits and other tapping supplies so they can go home and tap their own trees.

Katherine Banman of the Sapsuckers is ready for the event. "We’ve had some warm weather but it should be fine. We’ve had a bit of a dry winter so far so the water table has taken a while to come up and it’s still not all the way up yet so we’re watching that," she said. "The trees usually need a higher water table before they’ll give much sap. However we’ve been tapping some of the trees in the wetter areas of our

own property and they’re still doing pretty good. Overall we’ve had a year with very good quality but not too much quantity of syrup so far."

Banman said the snow pack doesn’t affect them that much.

"We usually need some freezing weather followed by warmer weather and sunshine with a high water table. That’s gives the best flows of sap, to our knowledge. But the trees sometimes really surprise us," she said.

Banman said it’s quite possible to tap your own bigleaf maples.

"You don’t need acreage. Sometimes even people on city lots have one or two trees and they can tap just enough for themselves. Even that sap is really great. You can make tea or hot chocolate with it and season soup and stew. You can also make rice with it and it adds sweetness and flavour," she said.

This year’s festival will be similar to previous years.

"There will be tours in the sugar bush and people can learn about tapping trees in the woods and there will be power point presentations.

"And this year, for the first time, we’re hoping to have videos. We just recorded two videos on how to tap a tree and they will be playing in a loop for people to watch.

"Hopefully that will generate questions and be good for beginners who can then come to the presentations and ask us questions directly. The producers that are there will be able to answer them," Banman said.

Organizers at the Centre are also looking forward to the event, according to board member Steve Lorimer.

"It’s a popular day. Usually during this period from January to Easter we don’t operate but we have this special event. It’s proven to be quite an attraction. I think last year there were more than 1,700 people show up," he said.

It tends to bring in a new crowd, as well.

"They have a little different interest. People are often quite surprised that we can get maple syrup from our trees out here on the west coast. It’s more common on the east coast," he said.

Bigleaf maples are really common on eastern Vancouver Island. "We have lots of them. Some people would call them weeds. They grow really well," he said. "This is one of those things where we have interest all up and down the Island from Campbell River right down to Victoria and everywhere in between. People come by to learn more about it and to participate."

Tasting is offered from 10 a.m. onward at the festival and the competition awards are handed out at 12:30 p.m. The Centre will have the Green Hornet train running, so families can jump on board every half hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is a special entry price for this event only: $8 for adults, seniors, students, and youth, $6 for children (two-12 years) and free entry for children under two with an adult.

And, while you’re waiting for the big day, why not visit bcforestmuseum.com, click on Maple Syrup and then check out the online maple syrup recipes? Then you’ll really want to drop in for a taste.

Just Posted

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read