Here in the Cooperstown area, we start to see some warming temperatures (finally) once we hit late February and March. This is the beginning of what is known locally as ‘the mud season’ – where temperatures will typically warm up to the 30’s or 40’s in the daytime and then head back back down to freezing during the overnight hours. This freeze/thaw cycle also marks the start of the maple sugaring season – the time of year when the sap begins to flow again in our local sugar maples to prepare for the energy needed for budding and leafing later in the spring. Local crafters tap the trees and begin to collect the sap so they can boil it down to make syrup or sugar products.
The Cooperstown area has a rich history of maple sugaring, going back to the days of Judge William Cooper, founder of the Village of Cooperstown. An avid proponent of business, Cooper worked diligently to provide avenues for trade routes to Albany, Philadelphia and Manhattan. One product Cooper promoted was maple syrup and maple sugar. Cooper looked at the production value per acre of land and determined that maple sugar production would be far more beneficial than standard crops. As part of his plan, he provided sugaring pots to anyone that would agree to use it for commercial production, with payment for the pot to come from the proceeds of product sales. The venture ultimately failed, as the product could not compete with lower prices for plantation-grown cane sugar.
Each year in March, we celebrate the sugaring season through Sugaring Off Sundays, a special program from The Farmers’ Museum, whose mission is to cultivate an understanding of the rural heritage that has shaped our land, communities and American culture.
Sugaring Off Sundays feature historic and contemporary maple-sugaring demonstrations, children’s activities and more. A full pancake breakfast with real maple syrup is served from 8:30 am–1 pm with other activities scheduled 9 am–2 pm. Admission: Ages 13 and older: $9.00 / Ages 7–12: $5.00 / 6 and younger are FREE! Admission includes full breakfast. Reservations are not required. Click to Learn More!