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Sap’s on tap at sugar shacks as WNY syrup season kicks off

Something sweet and sugary will be showcased across the region this weekend.

Visits to local sugar shacks will be part of Maple Weekend, happening Saturday and Sunday, as well as April 2 and 3.

Even though this wasn’t a good year for making maple syrup because of the weather, producers are waiting for visitors to come and get their fingers sticky.

Some sugar shacks sell just maple products. At other places you can drizzle syrup on your pancakes. Some places you can watch the maple syrup being produced.

At Moore’s Maple Shack & Pancake House in the Town of Freedom in Cattaraugus County, where the Moore family has been producing maple syrup since 1966, they offer all of the above. Families can even take wagon rides into the woods, where there are about 3,000 taps in the trees, said Earl Moore, whose son and daughter-in-law now run the business.

What started as Maple Sunday with about a dozen producers has grown into two weekends in which there are close to five dozen sugar shacks producing syrup.

“It’s got to be quite a little deal from what we started 21 years ago,” Moore said.

While all participating sites invite the public during the two weekends of the annual event, many are open more often. It’s best to check with each site for more information.

The promotion weekends aim to draw attention to the area’s and the state’s maple industry, pointing people to places they can go for locally produced maple syrup and other maple products.

The demand for maple products remains strong and production has generally been increasing, said David Munsee, president of the Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region.

But this season has been unusual because of the early warmth. The season typically runs from mid- to late-February through early April.

This year, some producers started making maple syrup in late January, Munsee said.

He and others are concerned about how much longer the season can last due to the warm weather.

“We need to get another freeze soon to get the trees going again,” he said.

But even if there’s no more freeze-thaw to get the sap flowing, all sites that signed up for Maple Weekend will still be participating.