It’s a sure sign of spring when the sap is flowing. I’m talking about maple syrup! The best way to enjoy this lovely Canadian treat is by visiting the ever popular annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, held in early April.
The sleepy town of Elmira, just north of Kitchener, Ontario, comes alive like bears out of hibernation for the largest single-day maple syrup festival in the world.
I grew up close by to Elmira but didn’t actually go to the event until I was in University. What can get more Canadian than downing syrup by the bucket and embracing the wintery “spring” weather?!
Elmira Maple Syrup Festival
Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is a ton of fun for both kids and adults. There are lots of activities that include eating, you guessed it, maple syrup. Before I go into the amazingness of what the festival is, I have to explain to everyone that maple syrup is a Canadian delicacy. Legit.
Too many people suffer from “table syrup”-itis. This is not real maple syrup. I repeat. NOT REAL. So let me tell you some facts about REAL maple syrup:
- Syrup comes from boiling down clear runny sap from maple trees.
- Only two countries in the world make it, Canada and the US.
- The Canadian province of Quebec is the largest producer, supplying a whopping 70 per cent of the world’s maple syrup.
- To harvest the sap, you have to “tap” a maple tree with a metal tube, although more modern farms use suction and hoses.
- A maple farm is called a sugar bush and the place where you make the syrup is called a sugar shack.
- Syrup can range in grades, which is based on the colour, from a light amber to dark (those are the names of the grades in Canada).
- Maple syrup is part of the Canadian identity, but no our money does not smell like it.
Devour large fluffy pancakes
The staple at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, of course, is eating the giant fluffy pancakes doused in delicious local maple syrup. The lines are longest here, as people eagerly wait for fresh off the griddle pancakes.
The golden-brown patties are one of the driving forces of the festival. Of course, if you would rather savour the other treats, you could always just meet Flapjack, the festival’s pancake mascot.
Load up on bottles and bottles of syrup
Here will be many local vendors selling their handmade crafts, but the best part is all the food. From sliced potatoes on a stick to sausages, apple fritters, giant roasted turkey legs to every maple syrup delectables you can think of, the festival’s outdoor market is the place to be. It stretches from end to end of the downtown strip, so you’ll be able to walk off your last meal before diving into another one.
Try maple syrup on a stick
This “old-fashioned taffy” is the epitome of a Canadian dessert. Hot maple syrup is poured onto snow to cool it quickly, making a sticky substance. Scoop it up with a stick and you’ve got a sweet treat to enjoy. Snow plus maple syrup equals heaven.
Related: 5 Ontario Trails to hike this Fall
All aboard the steam train
The Waterloo Central Railway’s famous steam train takes three round trips from St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market to Elmira during the festival. It’s so fun to feel like you’re back in time as you travel through the countryside on this old-fashioned train.
See how maple syrup is made
The best way to experience maple syrup is to see how it’s made. Hop on a bus and take a tour of the local sugarbush to see how farmers get the clear liquid sap to be sticky and sweet so you can pour it all over your pancakes.
Q: Have you ever seen how maple syrup is made?
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