Maple Festival to return to Teddy Bear Park

LIMA — An upcoming event promises a sweet experience for attendees this weekend.

The Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District’s Maple Festival will return Saturday at the McLean Teddy Bear Park, located at 2004 N. Dixie Highway in Lima.

The festival, which only comes around every two years, will run from noon to 4 p.m. and feature open-ended and self-guided hikes exploring the production of maple syrup.

Birds in the park tap trees with their bills and spring sap which is turned into maple syrup.

“(It’s) one of the first birds that migrate through the winter and they tap the trees with their bills and they end up getting some sap — that’s why they’re a sapsucker,” Chris Fetzer, a former volunteer, said in a 2020 story.

The event, which started in 1976, will offer six stations where visitors can learn at their own pace how Native Americans invented the process and taught pioneers to do it.

“We talk about why the sap flows at this time of year and no other time,” Fetzer added in the story.

A total of 50 taps are set up throughout the park to get one gallon of syrup for every 50 gallons of sap. The sap is taken to an evaporator at the sugar shack at the park to go through the process.

Re-enactors dressed as pioneers will show how tubing and plastic bags are used in the process, which also includes boiling the sap and then filtering sand to make the finished product: pure maple syrup.

“We’re just excited for people to get to know how real maple syrup is produced,” Fetzer said, “not this Log Cabin and Aunt Jemima stuff.”

Visitors will be allowed to purchase the pure syrup, which is different from artificial syrup found in stores and more expensive due to the amount of labor involved. As of 2016, pure maple syrup prices reached as high as $50 a gallon.

There will also be maple vendors and food trucks on hand to provide a festival atmosphere.

Anyone interested in the free event can visit, email [email protected] or call 419-221-1232 for more information