people watching a tree sap boil demonstration

February 09, 2022

SIU Maple Syrup Festival rescheduled, tickets available now for breakfast

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center’s ever-popular tradition, is happening in 2022, but it is being rescheduled from February to March due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases in the region and the unpredictable weather.

The free family friendly festival will take place March 26-27 at Camp 2, and tickets for the breakfast are now on sale. The all-day, two-day event will feature maple syrup demonstrations, outdoor environmental education activities, vendors, artisans, interpretive hikes, children’s events and of course, the pancake and maple syrup breakfast (paid tickets required).

Interactive activities galore

Festival visitors can enjoy a wide variety of hands-on programs and activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be demonstrations of the age-old process of tapping and harvesting maple sap and boiling it down to create syrup at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Lion’s Pavilion.

Students from SIU’s Forestry Club will demonstrate their amazing lumberjack skills and Touch of Nature’s portable climbing wall will be on-site for adventurous participants, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy live local music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Watch the website for added events and attractions as well as the complete music schedule.

Lunch will also be available from 1 to 4 p.m. as will an open bar, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Animals, demos and vendors abound

And that’s not all. There will be an extensive assortment of vendors and artisans on hand offering their wares to community members. You’ll find handmade textiles, natural soaps and lotions, wood and pottery items, natural woven baskets, essential oils and herbal products, alpaca yarn and gear and much more.

There will be demonstrations highlighting hide tanning, rope making and other skills dating back hundreds or even thousands of years. Live alpacas from Rolling Oaks Alpaca Ranch will be making an appearance as well.

Visit the website for a listing of vendors and artisans.

Buy now and save

Proceeds of the breakfast help support Touch of Nature’s mission as an outdoor experiential environmental education center. The tasty Pancake Breakfast, which typically draws large crowds who enjoy the chance to eat pancakes topped by real maple syrup, accompanied by all the trimmings including pork sausage produced locally by Triple C Meats, is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Purchased in advance by March 24, tickets are:

  • For ages 14 and older, $12.
  • For ages 6-13, priced at $6 each.
  • Free for ages 5 and younger.

Purchased after the early bird deadline or at the door, tickets are $15 and $8; children ages 5 and younger still eat free. Purchase tickets online or by calling 618-453-1121 with a credit card.

Touch of Nature members receive VIP seating; visit the website for details about becoming a member.

For more information

Located about eight miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road, the 3,100-acre site along Little Grassy Lake is bordered by Giant City State Park and the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. It is home to numerous programs, camps, retreats and facilities – including a new multi-purpose biking and hiking trail system.

To learn more about the festival or purchase tickets for the pancake breakfast, visit the festival website or, call 618-453-1121 or email

River Radio of Southern Illinois, the SIU Credit Union and Laborers Local 773 are this year’s community sponsors and Paul Melzer’s Country Financial in Murphysboro is the event sponsor for the 2022 Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast.