Nature’s sweetness was in abundance at the Williams County Fairgrounds on Saturday, March 23 with two events taking place together. Maple Syrup Day, as always, provided those in attendance sweet treats and an insightful look at the process of making pure maple syrup. Making the event even sweeter this year is that it ran in conjunction with the NW Ohio Woodland and Wildlife Family Festival. The festival, which travels from county to county, only has the opportunity to combine forces with the annual Maple Syrup Day festivities every few years.
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The festivities included a pancake and sausage breakfast with pure maple syrup, prepared by the Williams County Fair Foundation, which was well worth the wait of standing in line for. While some opted to take a leisurely walk, horse drawn and tractor pulled wagon rides across the covered bridge to the Sugar Shack were also available. While at the Sugar Shack, people could learn about the processes of maple tree tapping and sap collection as well as see the boiling of sap in an evaporator.
Plenty of woodland events were also held. John Mueller and Joe Puperi from the Division of Forestry were on hand to answer questions. Janet Sweigart gave the basics of hunting common wild edible mushroom while avoiding poisonous mushrooms. Chainsaw carver Ron Bassous was also on hand demonstrating his skill with using his chainsaw to turn large pieces of work into art. King Lumber also displayed their portable sawmill and Brent King displayed samples of native hardwoods.
For those more interested in wildlife there was also plenty to see and learn. Hunter and trapper Joe Blosser displayed his pelts and specimens while answering questions. The Black Swamp Rehab Center was also on hand with a few of their raptors to explain and answer questions about their rehabilitation of injured wild raptors that are eventually returned to their natural habitat. Dwight Wilson provided information on the world of bees and beekeeping and the National Wild Turkey Federation provided information on the restoration and hunting of the wild turkey.
For those interested in learning how to attract wildlife to their property, Mark Witt and Brice Nemire from the Division of Wildlife and Pheasants Forever were available to answer questions. Also available to answer questions in this regard were the Oak Openings Chapter of Wild Ones, Native Plants, and Natural Landscapes and NRCS. Lee Richter also gave updates on invasive species that threaten woodlands.
Other events and activities held throughout the day included information about chain saw safety by Bryan Equipment’s Larry Schram, the chance to make rope the old fashioned way from hemp cord provided by Chuck Wurth, and a large display of wood, blacksmith, logging tools, and Indian Artifacts brought by Bob Wilson.
While maple syrup, maple fudge and candy, maple cotton candy and kettle corn were all available for purchase as a reminder of the sweetness, the Williams County Soil and Water Conservation District also had a tree seedling sale for those interested in either adding to their landscapes or the restoration and conservation of woodland areas.
The event, sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Maple Syrup Producers, the Williams County Fair Foundation, the Williams County Senior Fair Board, the ODNR Division of Forestry, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Northwestern Ohio, and the Ohio State University Extension Office of Williams County, provided something for everyone to enjoy. Entire families came out to partake in the great food, memorable experiences, and to gather a host of interesting and useful information on how maple syrup is produced as well as how to conserve and restore the woodland areas that all of the days’ events are dependent upon.