(Submitted photo) At Welty’s 2020 Maple Sugar Fest, visitors practice drilling holes for a spile that allows sap to be collected from a Sugar Maple tree. Join Welty for this year’s fest on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Welty Environmental Center hosts 16th Maple Sugar Fest

Get ready for the sap to flow and the syrup to boil! Welty is hosting its 16th Maple Sugar Fest on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 8 a.m. to noon at Big Hill Center, located at 1201 Big Hill Court in Beloit.

The morning will be filled with maple sugar-themed activities, such as hikes to the sugar bush, a condenser boiling sap down to make syrup, children’s story time, basket weaving, wood carving, and take-home crafts. There will also be a delicious pancake breakfast featuring real maple syrup, sausage, applesauce, hot drinks, and milk. The cost is $10 for adults ($7 for Welty members), $5 for kids 3-12, and children 2 and under eat for free. Tickets will be available at the door and visitors are encouraged to bring their own utensils and mugs to cut down on waste generated by the event.

“We’re excited to be adding more hands-on activities inside, in addition to a lovely hike through the Big Hill woods,” said Brenda Plakans, Welty’s executive director. “Visitors can watch a basket weaving demo, see wood carvers at work, and try an ecology activity like I.D.ing paw prints and looking at insect parts through a microscope. They will also be able to taste sap as it comes out of the tree, and warm themselves by a bonfire!”

This is Welty’s 16th Maple Sugar Fest, and the event has always emphasized the maple sugaring tradition in Wisconsin. This process of using the early-run of sap to create maple sugar was introduced by Native Americans to European settlers as a strategy for getting through the last months of winter before spring food resources became available. Maple sugar was used as a seasoning as well as a treat, and was at the center of early spring celebrations. The morning will feature much of this history, as well as a delicious breakfast.

“Come enjoy the early signs of spring, rain or shine (or snow!), at Welty,” encouraged Plakans. “There’s something for everyone – including real maple syrup for sale – and it’s a fun, and tasty, way to learn more about Wisconsin history!”

For more information visit www.weltycenter.org, email info@weltycenter.org, or call 608-361-1377.