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Maple Weekend Kicks Off in NY

Organizers say the 19th annual state wide event is growing each year thanks to the booming sugaring business.
WEST CHAZY, Ny- Maple Weekend in New York kicked off Saturday. Organizers say the 19th annual state wide event is growing each year thanks to the booming sugaring business.

For Earl Parker, owner of Parker Family Maple Farm, sugaring is a way of life.

“I'm almost 80 years old and I started with my father when I was a little kid,” said Parker.

People gathered at Parker's farm in West Chazy, New York Saturday to kick off Maple Weekend.

“It’s such a relief to know that even though it doesn't look like spring today that sign of that steam coming out of the sugar house tells us that it really is here, it’s coming,” said Angela Swan, Chair of Maple Weekend.

In its 19th year, Swan says the number of sugarers involved in the weekend events continues to grow in Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties.

“Three or four years ago we only had four sugar house participating and this year we have 21 so that's another example of we are seeing a lot more people not only getting into the business, but these are the sugar houses that are developing their retail names, logos and retail business,” said Swan.

Swan says the events are happening all over the state. Each farm shows off a different aspect of the process from tapping trees, to collecting sap, and showing off the finished product. And even some other fun filled activities including horse drawn carriage rides.

At Parker's farm he's showcasing the latest technology in the business. This evaporator runs on wood pellets and cuts the families energy bill in half.

“This evaporator will make about 50 gallons of syrup an hour where the old one was about 20,” said Parker.

For Parker the maple business is a family affair. And it’s something he loves sharing with the public through events like this.

“It’s very rewarding to see young people that are interested in this day and age,” said Parker.

The weather has taken its toll on the sugaring season so far. Organizers say by now they've normally collected most of the sap. But for some producers- the season hasn't kicked off quite yet.

Senator Betty Little and Congressman Bill Owens were both in attendance Saturday to celebrate the weekend. Maple Weekend in New York continues Sunday and next weekend as well.

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