Sunday, March 15, 2015

10 on 10: Maple Syrup Festival

Early March in Indiana is the time for maple syrup festivals throughout the state. Indiana is the Southernmost state in the US Maple Belt and, therefore, Indiana maple syrup producers are often the ones to tap the trees the earliest in the season. The temperatures can still be cold (but in the Midwest, you never know: the temperatures could be quite warm, too--just not this year). In any case, the sap is flowing.

For the past several years, our family has made a weekend out of attending a maple syrup festival somewhere in the state. This year, my husband had to be away for a month from mid-February to mid-March so he could be with his mother as she is dealing with some health issues (she is doing okay) and I was home with the kids by myself during that time--just keeping everything going. Because it has been a cold and dreary winter in Indiana, I wanted to get the kids out of town for a bit .

I  decided it would be fun to attend the maple syrup festival in Salem, Indiana. It would be the first time at this particular festival--about 2 hours from home--not too bad. I asked the kids whether they wanted to take just a day trip or stay overnight, and they said they preferred an  overnight stay, so I booked a hotel--hey, it had a pool and between that and the festival, it would be a welcome break from all the TV and video games that become the default activity when the kids don't want to go outside.   And it was. That is, once we got there.

Whenever I am planning to go somewhere on a trip, I have ideas in my head about how it will go (or mostly when it will go). In this case, the idea was to leave by 10:30. The festival ended at 5, so that would give us a good long time--most likely more time than we needed and we'd probably leave early. But, you know the saying: "the best laid plans". Long story, short, we did not leave home until noon. Still, we'd be there by 2 and there were snacks in the car and the promise of pancakes with maple syrup when we got there. No need to stop for lunch.

I knew how to get to Salem; that was easy. And towns in Southern Indiana, well, most of them are not that big, and when there are festivals in these towns, well, typically they are a big deal. I figured there would be signs. Usually, there are signs.

Okay, so there were no signs. I had to switch over to using Google navigator on my phone and though, I am sure, it was the quickest, most straight forward way to get to the farm where the festival was, Google navigator sent me on a snow and ice covered gravel road. It did not look that bad at first, but, eventually, I got to a fairly big hill to go up, and it was quite icy. I failed the first two attempts--just  not enough speed and momentum, and I had to drive back down the hill (more like slide back down the hill, actually). My poor daughter was getting nervous (luckily my son was asleep because he can get quite tense in situations like this as well). My daughter declared that she did not like Salem, Indiana at all, and she just wanted to go home. Although I have to admit to being a bit nervous myself, luckily the third time was a charm, and I got up enough speed to make it up and told my daughter it was all part of the adventure--easy to say when things end up working out fine. 

And then we were on to another adventure at the parking lot for the festival. It was so muddy that nearly all the drivers, including myself, were getting stuck and needed to be pushed through the mud to park or get out. This time the adventure was less worrisome because we were not alone. In fact, they had a whole crew of volunteers helping people get through the mud in the parking lot--complete with tractors and chains. I just needed a push by two guys and we got parked.

Finally, we were ready to go into the festival--a few hours later than I had at first planned--but we were there. We ate first: pancakes with maple syrup, of course (not pictured) and then on to the activities. 

We got to try our hands at tomahawk throwing:

And crosscut sawing.

Ian made it to the top of the rope ladder and rang the bell:

Margot and Ian were fascinated by the old fashioned method of making syrup.

And then there was this: a hand made merry-go-round. It is one of the neatest things I have ever seen, and I think my kids would agree. It was operated by two volunteers pushing the seats to wind up the ropes and then letting go. It spins (quite fast) on its own. I did not try it because I would rather take pictures, but I am sure my kids can attest to it being very fun.

When we had to leave because they were shutting down for the day, I said to Ian and Margot, "well, I thought that this festival was a lot of fun". Ian said, "of course it was fun. What wouldn't be fun about this?"

Yes, nothing flashy; nothing complicated or electronic; it was just good, pure fun on a family-owned Indiana farm.


This post is a part of the 10 on 10 collaborative blog circle. In this collaboration, woman photographers post 10 photos a month and then form a virtual circle in cyberspace, so please follow around our circle, starting with the very talented Trine Lise Nilson from Norway.


  1. These are great Bonnie! It looks like you went back in time. I love the rustic tone, your editing is impeccable. Thank you for sharing the journey and the adventure that got you there. Us California kids might have balked at that hill :)

  2. What a great adventure, Bonnie! Thanks for sharing the details that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Though I've never experienced anything like it, being the Cali girl that I am, I could still picture myself there. I love the tones in these images. Gorgeous! I'm sure these will be treasures for your family - especially the double saw!

  3. Wow, very fun. So different from our scorching California weather, thanks for sharing!

  4. Glad you made it there safely. And kudos to you for taking your kids out on that adventure despite snowy and icy roads. Looks like you all had a great time.

  5. What an adventure! Here in SoCal we are far from this weather but I spent some time in Connecticut a few year ago and still remember the fear of driving in snow/icy roads. Being so different from what we do over here it was a very nice story to read, I think I got as nervous as your daughter when you said you were sliding back down the hill! Love all the pictures, your editing gave a real rustic touch to them!