Bob Parsons of Parsons Maple Products in Gorham last week readies bottles of syrup for Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, March 25 and 26. Robert Lowell / American Journal

With sap collected and sugarhouses fired up, maple producers around the state promise to have plenty of syrup boiled down and bottled up for Maine Maple Sunday Weekend.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to farms participating in the 40th annual this Saturday and Sunday to sample syrup and see how it’s produced. Many families will breakfast traditionally at the farms with the sweet syrup poured over pancakes.

The whole shebang owes its beginnings to a news reporter’s error in 1982, according to Alan Greene of Greene Maple Farm at 723 Bridgton Road in Sebago. Greene said his father was misquoted in a news story as saying his farm would be serving pancakes the following Sunday.

“As the yard here at the farm filled up with hungry folks, my mother and grandmother set to work making pancakes and handing them out with fresh syrup,” said Greene, vice president of the Maine Maple Producers Association.

His father, vice president of the association at the time, went to its next meeting and suggested that maybe an open-house type of event centered on maple sugaring would be a good way to draw more people to the farms and spread the word about the maple sugaring process. “The members in attendance tossed the idea around the room and decided to call it Maine Maple Sunday. The rest is history,” Greene said.

Lynn Merrifield, left, and his son Luke Merrifield make pancakes last year for the Maine Maple Weekend event at Merrifield Farm in Gorham. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

This weekend 41 years later, some farms are expecting up to 3,000 visitors.


Trees were tapped last month at Greene Maple Farm and syrup was being produced by Feb. 12, “roughly two to three weeks ahead of our normal,” Greene said.

Bob Parsons of Parsons Maple Products, 322 Buck St., in Gorham said they’ve already made as much syrup as last year’s yield, if not more. Their first boil was March 3 and they had trouble keeping up with sap collection.

“It was running like gangbusters for two weeks,” Bob Parsons said Monday, but it stopped the past five days. “The weather has been strange.”

Ideal temperatures for sap to run are 25 degrees at night warming up to 40 during days, said Parson’s nephew, Adam Parsons. It take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Greene said snow actually helps with season longevity, but it creates headaches as far as removal, cleanup and getting maple tubing and the mainline pulled up out of the snow. “If it’s not pulled up, the sap in the pipeline will freeze under the snow and prevent sap from flowing,” he said.

While most producers collect sap through tubing, Royal River Orchards, 201 Peacock Hill, in New Gloucester sticks to the old-fashioned method with buckets hanging on trees, and they haul the buckets to the sugarhouse on a sled, according to Leslee Hartwell.


Jenna LeVasseur of Old Town peers into an evaporator during a visit to Merrifield Farm in Gorham on Maine Maple Sunday weekend. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

Royal River, Greene Maple and Parsons Maple orchards use traditional wood fires to fuel evaporators that boil down the sap. Greene burns four to six cords of wood a year, and Hartwell said her visitors love the smell of the burning apple tree wood from their orchard.

Greene said his farm’s traditional pancake breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday at Sebago Town Hall to benefit the Fire Department; Parsons’ breakfast is set for 8-11 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday; and Royal River Orchards will hold theirs from 9 a.m. to noon on both days outside in their orchard, regardless of the weather, with to-go boxes available.

Maine has 520 licensed syrup producers and more than 575,000 gallons annually is produced annually in the state, according to the Maine Maple Producers Association.

For a list of maple producers participating in this weekend’s events,  go to

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