The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 10, 2013

Conservation district flips for flapjacks


WESTVILLE — Fans of pancakes with the taste of homemade maple syrup will get their fill next weekend as the Vermilion County Conservation District hosts its annual Maple Syrup Open House.

Each year workers at Forest Glen Preserve east of Westville collect and boil down hundreds of gallons of sap from the sugar maple trees to make natural maple syrup to serve during the open house and sell in pint and quart containers.

Vermilion County Conservation District Executive Director Ken Konsis said as of Friday that between 30-40 gallons of syrup had already been collected, cooked and bottled for the weekend event. With a warm up in temperatures expected, he said more could be made prior to the open house.

About 60 gallons of syrup were prepped and bottled in time for last year’s event.

The open house takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 17 at the Pioneer Homestead area at Forest Glen. The building where the syrup is made — dubbed the Sugar Bush — will be open for demonstrations as well as Forest Glen’s Pioneer Cabin.

The pancake and sausage breakfast will be served during the same time at the Gannett Outdoor Education Center. The cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children younger than 12 years old.

Containers of the homemade maple syrup also will be available for purchase. The syrup costs $12 for a pint and $24 for a quart — an increase of $2 from previous years.

According to Konsis, the event averages as many as 800 people each year and is an important revenue source for Forest Glen.

It takes between 40 and 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. As many as 400 sugar maple trees in Forest Glen were tapped this year. Some of the trees are big enough to support three different taps.

The season to tap the trees usually runs from mid-February through mid-March, depending upon weather conditions.

For information call Forest Glen Preserve at 662-2142.

VCCD Volunteer Fair

The Vermilion County Conservation District will conduct a Volunteer Fair from 1-4 p.m. April 14 at Kennekuk County Park’s Visitor Center. Volunteers are needed for the following areas: secretarial office help at Kennekuk and Forest Glen; historic building hosts at Kennekuk and Forest Glen; and for October’s Haunted Happenings event at Kennekuk.

No commitment is asked of visitors at the fair. The event is an opportunity to learn what the VCCD Volunteer Corps is about. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Lara Darling at 442-1691, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.