Two-day event features hands-on demos, activities & tastings

The green grass and tulips always get their moment in the sun, but an earlier hint that spring’s on its way arrives around this time every year at Red Oak Nature Center – and it sure is sweet.

“Spring officially begins March 20,” says Renee Oakley, facility manager at Red Oak, “but we start celebrating a little earlier in our neck of the woods.”

In those woods stand lots of maple trees, which will be the star of the show on Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19, when Maple Fest returns to Red Oak for a weekend of tree-tapping, exploring, learning, and tasting.

“People enjoy Maple Fest so much because it’s one of the first chances many have to spend some extended time in the fresh air,” Oakley says. “Maple tapping is one of the first signs of spring that make us all want to get outside and enjoy nature as it resets itself.”

Maple Fest runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $5 and guests must purchase them on our website for entry into their timed presentations, which begin at the top of each hour on both days of Maple Fest and last about one hour.

Naturalists from Red Oak will conduct a short presentation, before leading visitors to various stations in the woods to view demonstrations of how maple sap is harvested and turned into maple syrup. Attendees can stop by Sapwood Corner to test their maple-tapping skills firsthand. Sweet maple syrup samples will be given at the end of each tour for registered attendees.

“Maple tapping allows us to see inside the secret processes of trees and the treasure they hold inside,” Oakley says. “To walk among organisms that not only purify the air but also create food for us and themselves? That’s a wonder of biology that engineers cannot replicate today.”

Maple Fest parking is available in both the main lot at Red Oak, along with additional space at Lippold Park, just to the north. FVPD staff encourages guests who park at Lippold to use the nearby path as they make the short walk to Maple Fest, which is headquartered near the Nature Center.