Area maple producers, state and county representatives, and members of the media gathered together to talk maple on Thursday.
"We have the world's best maple syrup here in Chautauqua County," said state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua. "We're here to honor the incredible work done by local maple producers."
The Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region held its 7th annual Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day on Thursday at Clear Creek Farm. The purpose of the event is to kick-off the maple season with a ceremonial tree-tapping event and to promote the maple industry in Chautauqua County.
Top: Assemblyman Andy Goodell and John Gerber did the ceremonial tree tapping at Clear Creek Farm for Chautauqua County Maple Promotion Day. Above: The Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region created new New York-branded labels to promote the maple industry in New York state.
P-J photos by Hilary Scott
"The maple syrup industry is a great local market and provides an economic boost for the county through tourism," said County Executive Greg Edwards. "There's a significant opportunity in New York state with this market."
Located at 5067 Morris Road in Mayville, Clear Creek Farm hosted the event this year. Only in its second year of maple syrup production, Clear Creek Farm, owned and operated by John Gerber, is a new addition to the MPACR.
"Maple events like this show off the beautiful maple production locations and invite people to come and see how things are done. We need to have more advertising to show how fun it is to visit these places," said Edwards. Maple events also provide the opportunity for people in the maple industry to come together to share, learn and work together, he said.
The event started with Assemblyman Goodell doing the ceremonial tree tapping. Then the maple producers in attendance, which included Fairbanks Maple, Big Tree Maple, Weatherhill Farm and Fred Croscut, were given the opportunity to share how their seasons are going, updates about their operations and their opinions on current maple topics.
According to the producers, although weather this winter has been much milder than usual, it appears this maple season will see average production. They did all start tapping earlier than they typically do, as they weren't sure how long the season would last. Once the trees produce buds, the quality of the syrup drops and maple season is over.
"This is the first year we tapped in shoes and no snow shoes," said Doug Fairbanks of Fairbanks Maple.
Many of the producers as well as the state and county representatives expressed the need to better promote New York's maple syrup industry, which is second in the country, behind Vermont. One way this is being done is through new New York-branded labels.
Another purpose of the event is to promote the upcoming Maple Weekend, on March 17-18 and March 24-25. Maple Weekend is a collaborative marketing event in which producers from across New York state open their doors to the public in order to increase awareness of the maple industry in New York. Fairbanks Maple in Forestville and Big Tree Maple in Panama are participating in the weekend this year. For more information, visit mapleweekend.com.