This year marks the 35th anniversary of Maine Maple Sunday here up north. Maine Maple Sunday is always held on the fourth Sunday in March. This event gives folks the chance to visit sugar houses all over the state and observe the process of how maple syrup is made. Visitors can expect to learn about the old as well as the new methods of maple sugaring.
We visited a few sugar houses back when we lived in Connecticut and then continued the tradition here in Maine. To venture further than the one we have been visiting locally, we decided that we’d mix things up this year and head out to a different venue north of Clearwater Lake. That was a bust, so we were forced to continue driving. As our search for a sugar house continued, we stumbled upon the Maple Hill Farm located on Titcomb Hill Road in Farmington. There were several cars and pickup trucks parked up and down the road outside, so it seemed we may have struck gold. We received a warm welcome from the Tracy brothers, Pete and Bruce as well as the smell of that sweet maple goodness coming from the maple sap evaporator.
Pete told us that his family’s sugar house was one of the first participants of Maine Maple Sunday. Maple Hill Farm has kept up this tradition since the Maine Maple Producers Association started this annual event in 1983. Bruce explained the process of how the maple sap is transformed into maple syrup. He showed us the sap collection tank where the sap collects after it flows through the pipes, from the tapped trees. A vacuum pump system pumps the sap into the evaporator. Once the temperature of the liquid reaches a certain point over boiling, the sap is ready to be taken out of the evaporator. Bruce also explained that they use the old method of boiling, using a wood stove versus the newer method of oil heat.
We had a great time and enjoyed plenty of goodies. After the maple syrup demonstration, we enjoyed maple candy and vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. The sugar house also had other free samples, baked goods and gifts available. Thank you, Pete and Bruce, for your hospitality and we will definitely be back next year. On the way home, I also got some great shots of Clearwater Lake in Industry and one of the last ice fishermen still going strong at the end of the season.
Western Maine mountains.
The outside of the Maple Hill Farm sugar house.
The sugar house roof.
The entrance sign for Maine Maple Sunday at the Maple Hill Farm.
The maple sap lines.
Another angle of the sugar house.
The Maple Hill Farm entrance.
Outside of the sugar house.
Maine Maple Sunday at The Maple Hill Farm.
A maple sap evaporator.
Steam rising from the maple sap evaporator.
Bruce watching over the evaporator.
Boiling maple sap.
Wood slabs for heating the evaporator.
Wood slabs for the wood burning stove.
Wood stove for boiling the sap.
A fire burning inside the wood stove.
A sap collection tank.
The top of the sap collection tank.
Another view of the sap collection tank.
The vacuum pump system.
Steam rising from the evaporator toward the ceiling.
A view of a window covered with steam.
Steam rising toward the wooden beams.
Maple syrup buckets.
A bunch of vintage snowshoes.
The exit of Maple Hill Farm sugar house.
Ice fishing in Maine.
A view of Clearwater Lake in Industry, Maine.