Things to do in March in the Mountains of Virginia
Is anything better than fresh maple syrup? Highland County, Virginia’s “Sweet Spot” is hosting its 61st annual Maple Festival, March 9-10 and March 16-17, 2019. Tens of thousands of visitors come to celebrate the “opening” of the trees and participate in a unique experience!
At the Highland County Maple Festival, get a glimpse into the interesting world of maple syrup making. Eight different sugar camps are open for tours to view the process of syrup-making. A list of sugar camps can be found on the Highland County website at Sugar Camp Tours. Some camps have been producing syrup for generations and still follow the traditional methods. Other camps have incorporated state-of-the-art equipment and process, and some utilize both. In addition to educational tours, most sugar camps offer “stores” where you can find everything from maple products, jams, and honey to food and local crafts.
As a kid, I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “Little House in the Big Woods”. In the book, she described how the family collected maple sap from the trees, boiled it down to make syrup and how they would pour hot syrup directly onto the snow to make candy for the kids to eat. I was always fascinated by the process. In 7th grade physical education class, I was lucky enough to participate in tapping trees, gathering sap and boiling it down to make syrup. I brought home a 5 gallon bucket and boiled the sap for hours on the stove, and finally ended up with a couple of mason jars of thin syrup. It was a very long process and my mother never wanted to see another container of maple sap, but the end result was delicious!
In addition to the sugar camp tours, a variety of other activities are provided for your entertainment. Over 100 contemporary and traditional artisans display their products at a Juried Arts and Crafts Show. On Saturday, February 23, 2019 attend the Maple Queen Contest followed by the Maple Queen Ball. During the weekends of March 9-10 and 16-17, live music will be provided by artists such as Delta Junction, Tyler Hughes and Wayne Henerson & Helen White. All-you-can-eat Pancake Dinners will be held both weekends from 7 am – 4 pm depending on location.
There is so much to do, plan to stay overnight! Lodging can be found at Vine Cottage Inn or a variety of other local Bed and Breakfasts in the area. However, make your reservations soon as rooms are filling quickly! Come join us for the 2nd largest Maple Festival in the USA, the Highland County Maple Festival! Hope to see you there!