Maplefest now ready to go

After a few weeks of weather-related delays, Seneca County Maplefest is set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at Snavely’s Sugar Shack.

Hosted by Paul and Evelyn Snavely, the event includes a pancake and sausage breakfast with local maple syrup and a tour of the sugar camp.

The Snavelys have been making maple syrup for seven generations and have about 1,200 taps, all on buckets, in six woods.

Visitors also can tour the sugar camp and learn how sap from maple trees is made into sweet syrup.

Brian Snavely, who was operating equipment in the camp Wednesday afternoon, said the process has changed in the last few years.

For every 3,000 gallons of sap collected today, he said, only 750 gallons actually goes through the evaporator to be made into syrup, which saves 75 percent on the cost of fuel to operate the evaporator in addition to time and labor.

Three-quarters of the water in the sap is removed using a machine new to the Snavely operation that uses reverse osmosis to help condense the sugary part of the sap before it goes to the evaporator.

In previous years, he said sap would boil for 140 hours to get 550 gallons, compared to the new methods that produces 950 gallons in 60 hours of boiling.

Although this year’s late start makes the total output unknown, Snavely said last year was a good for maple syrup production. In two days, the Snavelys and their team of assistants collected 7,000 gallons of sap in two days.

Using the old system, he said, evaporating that much sap into syrup would have taken three days of boiling for 24 hours each day. Instead, he said it took 10 hours.

Another change in the camp since last season was the loss of 200 taps on many older trees in a wind storm July 10. The storm also took down the 400-year-old tree some people might remember from past tours.

Maplefest’s pancake and sausage breakfast includes soft serve ice cream provided by Seneca Masonic Lodge. Cost is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 12 and younger. Children ages 5 and younger are free. Meals are served in the a large, heated building near the road at 9409 E. TR 138, four miles north of Republic between SR 18 and 19.

A shuttle transports visitors back to the woods, where the Snavely family and friends demonstrate and explain the process of making maple syrup. Maple syrup is for sale.

The David Fruth family of Carey plans to provide candy and sugar-making demonstrations and have candy and popcorn available for sale.

The camp is on Facebook. Find it by searching Snavely’s Sugar Shack.