Fenner holds 45th annual maple syrup festival

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A small child looks up at a large metal machine operated by a woman who is making cotton candy

Maysa Sitar

A small child watches as a volunteer spins maple-flavored cotton candy

On March 16, hundreds attended the Fenner Nature Center’s annual maple syrup festival. The festival features syrup-making demonstrations, tree tapping, and maple syrup cotton candy making.

Jenina Halitsky, treasurer of the Fenner board of directors, said “It’s in its 45th year. It was once I volunteered here that I really took an interest in being a part of it.”

Another first-time volunteer, Michigan State University student Ben Heriford, said he grew up in the Lansing area, but had never known about the festival. Heriford manned a section of the maple syrup-making demonstrations that detailed how Native Americans used maple tree sap.

Ben Heriford, center, explains how Native Americans used to make maple syrup.[/caption]“They didn’t use maple syrup as we think of it now,” said Heriford, “They used it for the sugar, and then they could cook with it or trade with it.”

Alexa Seeger, development and events manager for Fenner Conservancy, runs the festival.

A log sits in the center of the picture with Native American tools on it. Around it are two men and a child, in conversation.

Maysa Sitar

Ben Heriford, center, explains how Native Americans used to make maple syrup.

“This one is actually my favorite,” said Seeger, “I grew up in Lansing, and so I used to come here as a little kid, and one of the things I remember most was the maple festival.”

The festival attracts about 2,000 people each year.

“Our biggest draw and educational piece is our sugar bush demonstrations out in the maple grove,” said Seeger. “We actually have taps running in the trees, so we are pulling maple sap for maple syrup.”
Heriford, who was volunteering with his academic fraternity, said that he had enjoyed the day.

“I learned more about maple syrup than I ever thought I could know,” said Heriford. “I would definitely come back.”

For others, the festival is a sentimental event to return to year after year.

“Just being out in the sugar bush, smelling the maple syrup boiling down,” said Seeger, “I still remember that however many years later.”

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