Learn Why Real Maple Syrup Is So Precious at Sugar Maple Fest in McHenry County, Ill.
McHENRY COUNTY, ILL. - Canada produces 90 per cent of the world's maple syrup, and it's such a precious commodity that criminals hijack semi-loads of the sweet stuff. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the price of American maple syrup ranges from $42 to $68 per gallon. (Good thing our cars don't run on maple syrup!)
But you don't need to cross the border to experience the art of making maple syrup! Just an hour's drive northwest of Chicago, there's an annual event called "Festival of the Sugar Maples" at the Coral Woods Conservation Area near Marengo, in McHenry County, Ill. This year's celebration is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, March 8-9 and 15-16. Admission is free. Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk about a half-mile (six city blocks).
One-hour tours leave every 15 minutes and feature the cultural history of the century-old maple grove, collecting techniques, tree-tapping, sap-boiling and syrup-tasting. (If you wonder why real maple syrup is so dear, it's because it takes 30 to 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!)
Want some pancakes with your syrup? The Lions Club is hosting its annual Pancake Breakfasts from 7 a.m. to 12 noon on Sunday, March 8, at the South Union Roadhouse at Donley's Wild West Town in Union, Ill., and Sunday, March 15, at United Methodist Church in Marengo, Ill. Breakfast is $6 per adult and $3 per child. Shuttle service to and from the woods is available.
McHenry County is just an hour's drive northwest of Chicago, bordered on the north by Wisconsin, and on the south by I-90. The Fox River winds down from the Chain of Lakes through the towns on the eastern side of the county, while country roads meander the western side.
For more info about the area, log-on to www.VisitMcHenryCounty.com, phone toll-free 888-363-6177 or download an electronic Visitor Guide http://mydigitalpublication.com/publication?m=32331&l=1.