BRIDGEWATER, Maine — The rich, flavorful maple syrup from Bradbury Maple Farms in Bridgewater may pour slowly onto a plate of pancakes, ployes or other food, but very little about the maple tapping season is slow for the Bradbury family business.
When they opened their doors on Maine Maple Sunday, they once again began the tradition of selling their wares and educating the public about their operation.
“It has been really busy, just pretty much nonstop,” Charlene Bradbury, one of the owners and operators, said Sunday afternoon. She was in the store on the property, selling products such as maple syrup, maple cream, maple sugar, candies, suckers and more while also cooking a ham for supper. “But I don’t think we have ever had a maple Sunday when we haven’t been busy. Even when it has been raining, people have shown up. They just love it.”
Maine Maple Sunday takes place at more than 100 sugarhouses across Maine every fourth Sunday in March. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the event. Participating sugarhouses opened for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.
Gov. Paul LePage recently highlighted the start of maple tapping season with Maine maple producers on the Blaine House lawn by tapping a maple tree, an annual tradition. The governor used the event to highlight the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and its potential to create even more jobs.
“This industry demonstrates the excellent opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy as well as to promote job creation for our citizens,” said LePage.
Bradbury Maple Farms is operated by Boyd and Charlene Bradbury and Bart and Heather Bradbury, along with various other family members and friends who step in to help when needed.
Visitors to Bradbury Maple Farms were given tours of the operation, including getting to witness Boyd Bradbury using the farm’s maple syrup evaporator. He said Sunday afternoon that while he has rebuilt pieces of the machine, some of it is still the same machine that his great-grandfather Ellie Sharp used in 1934.
Micah Martin, 12, of Fredericton, New Brunswick, had never been to the farm before. He was visiting his grandparents in Presque Isle when they decided to take him on a tour of the facility.
“I think its neat,” he said after watching Bradbury use the evaporator. “I have never been to a sugarhouse. The candy is awesome.”
Kim Henderson, who lives in Presque Isle, said that she tries to get to the farm every year to buy their maple syrup.
“I just love it,” she said. “It is just so fresh and delicious, especially at this time of year. You can’t beat it.”
Charlene Bradbury said that the quality of the syrup is “excellent” this year, and she felt that the season might be prolonged due to the ideal temperatures.
“This is a lot of work, but we love it,” she said Sunday.
The farm will be open next weekend and the first weekend in April.
Maine had 1.47 million taps and produced 360,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2011, a 14 percent increase from 2010. The latest yearly figures show that Maine generated nearly $13 million in revenue from the maple industry.
In 2011, Maine was third in the nation in maple syrup production, accounting for 13 percent U.S. output. Figures for 2012 are not yet available.