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Lancer Spotlight 03/22/24: Annual Maple Syrup Festival provides sweet entertainment in Cunningham Falls

A display jar demonstrated how sugar condenses and darkens whilst being boiled into maple syrup.
Lily Hanson
A display jar demonstrated how sugar condenses and darkens whilst being boiled into maple syrup.

On March 9-10 and 16-17, the annual Maple Syrup festival was held at Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland. The Maple Syrup Festival has been held once a year in the spring for over 50 years. 

The festivities included performances from a live bluegrass band, hayrides, “pancake races” and syrup-making demonstrations. There were also pancakes and various forms of maple syrup for sale. The festival took place on one of Cunningham Falls beaches, which provided a secluded and scenic view of the lake.

The syrup-making demonstrations took place every hour in a pavilion named the Sugar Shack. Volunteers talked about the history of maple syrup and the process of collecting it. 

Genesis Maldonado, a senior at Linganore, attended the festival on March 16.

“I really like the informational [aspect], like the demonstrations on how to make the sugar for the maple syrup,” Maldonado said. 

According to the demonstration, Cunningham Falls taps syrup from fifteen different trees. Before setting up a tree to extract maple syrup, they make sure it is both healthy and mature. A mature tree should be around ten inches around the trunk. This ensures that the tree has enough sugar flowing into its roots to not be affected by the extraction of syrup. 

After watching the demonstration, one may be interested in walking to one of the next door pavilions to listen to live music from the Seneca Creek Bluegrass Band or purchase pancakes and a number of maple syrup-themed products.

Another attraction of the festival is the “pancake race,” which takes place outside the pavilion. Here, visitors race to see who can flip their pancakes the fastest.

One downside of the festival this year was the difficulty of locating it due to the road closure on Route 77. The road closure affects both Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls. 

“The drive up there was really pretty,” Maldonado said. “But, it was long. So, that was a big portion of my trip.” 

Returning festival attendees will be happy to know the project is slated to end this summer and the usual route can be taken to the Maple Syrup Festival in 2025.

Maldonado recommends people attend the festival in the future.

“It’s a local event; it’s small and well-maintained, and I think it’s just a good show of Maryland having things other than DC,” Maldonado said.

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