A Sweet Recap: 2024 Maple Syrup Festival

Hosted annually at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature outdoor education center, the annual Maple Syrup Festival once again delighted visitors on March 23rd and 24th, 2024. Located in Makanda, Illinois in Jackson County, this beloved event, includes a vibrant blend of activities, entertainment, and of course, maple syrup.

From 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, the grounds of Touch of Nature welcomes visitors of all ages, providing a day packed with unforgettable experiences and wholesome fun. One of the highlights of the festival, as usual, is the pancake breakfast, where attendees indulge in stacks of pancakes drenched in locally sourced maple syrup.

For thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Maple Syrup Festival offers an array of unique activities. From rock climbing to zip lining, there was no shortage of excitement against the backdrop of the Shawnee National Forest.

At the heart of this festival is maple syrup demonstrations, where skilled artisans showcase the time-honored process of transforming sap into liquid gold. Yet, due to a variety of weather events this year demonstrators were limited in what they were able to showcase, educating visitors about what this means for maple syrup production.

Throughout the day, the festival resonated with the sounds of live music, courtesy of talented local performers. From folk tunes to upbeat melodies, the musical lineup added an extra layer of joy to the festivities, providing the perfect soundtrack for a day of celebration. Additionally, there are over 50 local artisans selling their wares.

With its family-friendly atmosphere, the Maple Syrup Festival offered something for everyone. Families roamed the grounds, immersing themselves in nature and creating cherished memories. Beyond the scheduled activities, visitors had the opportunity to explore the expansive grounds of Touch of Nature, with guided hikes and activities throughout the cabins on site. For those seeking food beyond pancakes, lunch was available for purchase.

The Maple Syrup Festival at Touch of Nature had once again proven to be a sweet celebration of tradition, nature, and community—a cherished event that continues to leave a lasting impression on all who attend.

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