SOUTH DAYTON - Chautauqua County is gearing up for another maple syrup season.
The Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region and the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau kicked off the maple season with the annual Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day on Friday, which was held at Dye's Syrup Company in South Dayton. Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day is an event focused on maple producers in the county.
Virginia Carlberg, community educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, noted the importance of the event.
A map hanging in the sugarhouse at Dye's Syrup Company in South Dayton details the locations around the world that maple syrup from Dye's has been distributed.
"We enjoy helping maple producers - maple production is an important industry to Chautauqua County agriculture," she said.
Dye's Syrup Company is in its fifth generation of family members that are actively involved with the syrup-making process.
Although the family boiled in a new sugarhouse in 2013, they still use much of their older equipment. The family has roughly 1,600 taps with gravity tubing and boil in their sugarhouse with a wood-fired arch.
Jenny Dye said that her family enjoys the old-fashioned way of producing maple products.
During the event, Tim Bigham, area field adviser for the New York Farm Bureau, pointed out a map hanging in the sugarhouse of Dye's Syrup Company, which details locations across the world where Dye's syrup has been distributed - push pins are scattered throughout the map.
"I want to draw attention to this map of where Dye's syrup has been distributed. This shows what kind of an impact (maple production) has on the world," he said.
John Gerber, a maple producer from the Mayville area, said that he runs an operation smaller than Dye's Syrup Company.
"I'm pleased to be here. One of the great things about maple producers in Chautauqua County is that we are all supportive of each other," he said. "Knowledge and wisdom are freely dispersed."
Jacqueline Chiarot, regional director for Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, said that all agricultural production is also important to Reed.
"Reed realizes how important agriculture is - it's what we were founded on," she said.
"Thank you for doing what you do to make such a difference in our area," Chiarot said to the maple producers.
Before the ceremonial tapping of a maple tree to kick off the maple season, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and County Executive Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, both shared the role maple syrup has played in creating memories with their families - Horrigan noted his grandchildren's affinity for visiting maple producers and Goodell said that during his child's journeys abroad, Chautauqua County maple syrup was always an enjoyable gift for host families.
Lloyd Munsee, of Big Tree Maple, mentioned the upcoming Maple Weekend, urging participants to visit as many participating locations as possible.
The Maple Weekend will occur March 22-23 and March 29-30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission is free. More than 140 locations in the state will participate, offering a variety of activities from tapping and boiling to horse and wagon rides and walks in the woods.
"There will be different activities at each location," Munsee said.
Linda Fairbanks, of Fairbanks Maple in Forestville, added that she has been in the maple syrup business for decades and plans to participate in the Maple Weekend event.
"We basically do syrup all year round," she said. "We have a pancake breakfast all four days of the Maple Weekend and there will be horse drawn rides."
Fairbanks Maple has a 20-seat kitchen where Fairbanks serves a variety of maple products including maple mustard, coated nuts, maple candies and maple jelly.
Richard Kimball, president of the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau, said that maple products from Big Tree Maple were recently enjoyed by many individuals from across the state during the Taste of New York Reception at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Following the reception, individuals from the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau met with legislators regarding 2014 priorities during the annual Lobby Day on March 4.
According to the New York Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2013, it took nearly 46 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
In 2013, New York state had 2.2 million taps, making it the second largest maple producing state in the United States. In the same year, 1,500 maple producers made 574,000 gallons of syrup - a 60 percent increase from the amount made in 2012.
New York state maple producers accounted for 18 percent of all maple syrup made in the country in 2013.
Maple syrup is the main ingredient for a number of maple products, including maple cream, maple sugar, maple coffee, maple tea, molded maple sugar, maple jelly, maple mustard, maple suckers, maple butter, maple cotton candy, maple oatmeal bread, maple apple butter, maple walnut fudge, maple peanuts and maple mousse.
For more information about the Maple Weekend and a comprehensive list of locations, visit www.mapleweekend.com.