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Maple Harvest Festival At Shaver's Creek To Celebrate 30th Anniversary

by on March 22, 2014 7:00 AM

Since 1984, the Maple Harvest Festival at Shaver's Creek has been teaching the community how to make maple syrup, from tree to table.

On March 22 and 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Shaver's Creek Environmental Center in Petersburg, Pa. will host their annual sugar harvesting celebration and all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, featuring live music, storytelling, and live bird and reptile shows. Tickets are $10 (ages 12+) and $6 (ages 6–11) for non-members, while children ages five and under receive free admission.

While proceeds will benefit the nature center, festival director Laurie McLaughlin insisted on calling the event a "friend raiser" since many people are coming to Shaver's Creek for the first time looking to have a positive experience outdoors.

"It's a great community builder for our staff to work together on a project that we know will help impact the center region and beyond in terms of providing excellent outreach programming to all ages," says McLaughlin. "It also helps us to educate people about where their food comes from and learn about sustainable products."

What used to be two different festivals -- an Old Time festival, which focused on the history of making maple sugar and syrup, and a traditional festival which demonstrated how to make syrup in the "modern" day -- were combined into one maple harvest celebration in the early 90's.

Over 100 volunteers come out every year to help run the festival, which hosts between 1,500 to 2,000 people. A group of 40 students and 20 staff members, costumed as Native Americans, pioneers, and modern-day farmers, will be teaching patrons how to identify and tap sugar maple trees. At the "Sugar Shack", built in 1984 by former Shaver's Creek director Corky Potter and former Penn State parks and rec professor Jerry Elliott, onlookers can watch the collecting, boiling, and processing of sap into authentic maple syrup.

As part of Penn State's course RPTM 297G - Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families, students learn how to interpret the natural history process of maple sugaring to the general public. Come Saturday, they'll be be stationed around the festival putting their newly-acquired skills to the test.

"Throughout this class, students are engaged in a process that allows them to learn a specific skill, as well as how to teach that skill in a creative, non-traditional way," says McLaughlin, also a program instructor. "This process and experiential method of teaching not only involves them as a student, but allows them to learn life skills that they can apply to future careers."

For more information about this weekend's event, click here, or check out the Shaver's Creek website

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C.J. Doon is a frequent contributor to Onward State and is a former StateCollege.com intern. A Long Island native, Doon is studying print journalism at Penn State.
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