Maple syrup festival

February 20, 2023

Maple Syrup Festival 2023 is March 25-26 at SIU’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Homemade maple syrup, one of nature’s original comfort foods, is the star of the show at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s popular annual Maple Syrup Festival, set for March 25-26. 

The festival is happening at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center and features a weekend full of special activities – many of which are free – and a delicious breakfast featuring homemade pancakes and maple syrup harvested at the center. The fest, which is open to the public, runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the site, located about eight miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road. 

Numerous activities planned

The event is a family-friendly affair with something for everyone to enjoy.

MapleSyrupFestival-19-sm.jpgOne highlight includes lumberjack games by the SIU Forestry Club, with shows at 1 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The fest features other assorted children’s activities and a wide variety of vendors and artisans displaying and selling their wares, including handmade soaps, spices, jewelry, freeze-dried candy, artwork and more.

Vendors and artisans from throughout the Midwest will conduct interactive demonstrations. Visitors also can learn the process for making ropes and pottery and how early peoples survived in the wild. They also can discover how alpaca wool is spun into yarn to create various soft woven items and can test their skills at the climbing wall, as well.

Participants can also enjoy nature hikes and discover the time-consuming process that turns the maple sap collected from the trees onsite into the rich, tasty syrup. Live music is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and an open cash bar will be available throughout the day, with lunch offered for purchase 1-4 p.m.

There is no cost for enjoying the diverse array of festival activities, with the exception of the breakfast and any purchases made.

Make reservations now for breakfast

MapleSyrupFestival-7-sm.jpgThe home-cooked pancake breakfast will be served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day and tickets are now on sale. The pancakes will be topped with maple syrup made from sap harvested from Touch of Nature trees, served along with sausage, fruit and drinks.

Register online now or by calling 618-453-121. Tickets are $15 for ages 11 and older and $8 for ages 4-10. Children 3 and younger eat free.  

Tickets can also be purchased at the festival.

For more information about the Maple Syrup Festival or to register for the breakfast, visit, call 618/453-1121 or email

Sponsors of the 2023 Maple Syrup Festival include the SIU and its Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, the SIU Credit Union, River Radio of Southern Illinois, LiUNA Midwest Region and Paul Melzer of Country Financial in Murphysboro. Triple C Meats is supplying local sausage.