Hundreds Attend Maple Sugaring Day

WHEELING – Six-year-old Olivia Kahle of Wheeling said her favorite part of Maple Sugaring Day involved walking through the woods with her friends.

Despite some chilly temperatures Saturday morning, Kahle and her mother joined and hundreds of others in bundling up in their winter clothes to hike through the woods behind Camp Russell in Oglebay Park to learn about maple sugaring techniques.

Presented by Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center, the hands-on outdoor program that begins with a tour through the woods on the grounds of Camp Russell has become an annual event at the start of Spring.

With the aroma of burning wood from several camp fires filling the air, nature guides led small groups through the woods of Oglebay – stopping along the trail to discover maple sugaring techniques from its earliest history through present day. After stopping at nearly a half dozen sites along the trail, participants were treated to a pancake and sausage breakfast with fresh maple syrup straight from Oglebay’s sugar bush, while listening to live fiddle music provided by Nicholas Bugosian of St. Clairsville.

“We call this ‘the public maple sugar festival,’ and we’re having like a living trail of history … talking about the history of how the sugar maple was used for food by the native people,” said Naturalist Greg Park, who was dressed as a Native American while giving the first presentation along the hour long tour.

“I’m showing how the natives would have done this and how they learned it,” Park added.

He also explained to the crowd how the pioneers who moved to America from Europe learned from Native Americans how sap could be tapped from the maple trees, and cooked down to make maple syrup in a section of trees.

“I actually learned a lot, I thought it was very interesting,” said Terri Magruder Kahle, mother of Olivia, who was taking the tour with nearly a dozen girls with the Daisies scout troop from St. Michael’s Parish in Wheeling. Magruder said she never knew Native Americans used fire heated stones to heat the maple sap. She said her daughter along with all the children in the group thoroughly enjoyed Maple Sugaring Day.a0