January 25, 2012

Maple fest-pancake breakfast expands to four days

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The chance to enjoy a breakfast of pancakes with real maple syrup combined with a fascinating workshop is such a popular treat at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center that the event is expanding to four days with a new format and a special touch for children in 2012.

This year’s annual Maple Festival and Pancake Breakfast is set for 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Feb. 25 and 26 and March 3 and 4.  Each day, participants can enjoy breakfast, featuring pancakes and maple syrup and sausage, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Freeburg Hall and Sledgefoot Lodge. 

Throughout the family friendly event, you’ll be able to visit a series of interesting, interactive learning stations, at your leisure, in any order.  There, you’ll learn about tree identification and tree physiology, including discussion about why trees have sugar and why sap flows when it does.  Find out how to tap the trees and the techniques to use in boiling the sap into syrup.  Discover the legends and lore that surround the maple syrup harvest, how the Native Americans and early settlers got the sweet substance from the trees, the significance of the harvest and much more. 

The kids’ cabin premiers this year, offering assorted fun activities especially for youngsters.  

“Last year’s event was wonderful -- an opportunity for folks to get outside and sample the first signs of spring.  With the addition of the kids’ cabin, this year’s fest promises to be even more worthwhile.  We’re super excited to offer the Maple Festival and Pancake Breakfast to the community,” said Kate Hellgren, environmental education program coordinator at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

The cost of the festival and meal is $15 for those ages 13 and older and $8 for children ages 5-12.  Children age four and younger can participate at no cost. 

All participants must register in advance though.  The registration deadline is 4:30 p.m. on the Friday prior to the date of the festival you plan to attend.  To sign up, or for more information, call 618/453-1121 or you can find details online at www.ton.siu.edu.