Tapping trees for the annual Sugarbush Festival

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The 46th annual Sugarbush Festival is next Saturday at the Blandford Nature Center. Although the warmer than normal temperatures have made it especially difficult to make maple syrup this year, the nature center still has 700 gallons of sap ready to demonstrate the maple syrup making process.

They say that should be more than enough.

"We're actually more interested in the educational purpose of it," says Frank Phillips, Sugar House Operator at the Blandford Nature Center.

The warm temperatures don't give the sap a chance to run up and down the trees for a long period of time, according to Phillips. He also says the sap isn't as concentrated when we have an abnormally warm start to spring.

"This weather is a little strange. Going up so warm like that. People think this is spring. But for sugar makers, this is not spring. Spring is 25 at night, 40 during the daytime, 25 at night, 40 during the daytime, where the tree is acting like a pump to pull that sugar up and send it back down."

If you'd like to learn how to make maple syrup, it takes a lot of patience and hard work -- even when conditions are ideal.

But Renee Baker, Community Engagement Specialist at the Blandford Nature Center, says it can be fun. Plus, it's an activity that makes Michigan unique. "Sugar maples do grow in about one third of the United States, but the temperature is just right here in Michigan along with Vermont and a few other states," she said.

If you'd like to learn how to make maple syrup, the Sugarbush Festival is a good opportunity. The festival begins next Saturday at 10 a.m.

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