March Maple Madness: Celebrate Chautauqua’s Maple Syrup Bounty During NYS Maple Weekends

By Margot Russell.

Maple syrup occupies a sweet spot in our nation’s history. It was the Native Americans who showed the colonists the magic spewing from New England maple trees.  The early Americans used the sap to sweeten venison and the colonists took the idea and improved upon the process of collecting it…and well, the rest is history.

Maple Tree TappingWe still hold idyllic visions of maple sugaring— sugar shacks in the woods with steam curling toward the sky and metal pails tied to maples, and horse-drawn sleighs carrying the sweet stuff through the last snow of winter.  It holds a heralded spot in the American collective consciousness.

While the process of collecting sap from the maples is basically the same, technology has caught up with operations and today you’re more likely to find plastic tubing directing the syrup from trees rather than the labor-intensive collection with buckets.  But that doesn’t diminish its mythical worth: on any given morning, pancakes across America are graced with real maple syrup—some of it crossing many miles from the woods of New York State.

Maple Weekends in Chautauqua County, NY

Make family memories during New York State's Maple Weekends. Tour sugar shacks and chow down at pancake breakfasts happening throughout the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region on March 17-18 & 24-25. // Learn more at

Posted by Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New York is second to Vermont in maple syrup production and to celebrate the sap’s connection to the land and its people, “Maple Weekend” will be held with 160 farms and other locations across the state encouraging visitors to learn about—and sample—syrup.

New York State Maple WeekendHere in Chautauqua County, maple syrup isn’t just about history; it’s an important industry to the county’s agriculture.  And so, from pancake breakfasts to events at sugar houses and wineries, Chautauqua County is gearing up to host its own sugaring events from March 17-18 and March 24-25. Sample crepes, maple-aged spirits and brews and towering plates of pancakes.  It’s been a coveted event in our corner of New York since 1995 when the New York State Maple Producer’s Association started the event to commemorate syrup’s celebrated spot in our state’s history.

Big Tree Maple in Lakewood–proudly hosting 4000 local maple taps—is one of the county’s high-tech producers of pure maple syrup.

Their modern equipment includes facilities to quickly unload and store large amounts of raw maple sap, a new high capacity reverse osmosis machine that concentrates the sugar content, and an oil-fired evaporator fitted with an automatic syrup draw-off system. The public is invited to take a look at their modern sugar house and see how the “real stuff” is made.

Big Tree Maple

Big Tree Maple

In addition to their sugar house tours, they’re hosting pancake breakfasts on both weekends during the March event in cooperation with their neighbor—Ashville General Store—where pancakes will be served from 7:00 am to noon on March 17-18 and the 24-25.

Show up in the morning for a stack of three pancakes with Big Tree maple syrup for $2.99, but you can make it a heartier meal by adding a sausage link or patty for $4.99. Drinks and other sides are also al a carte.

After breakfast, head over to Big Tree’s sugar house to take a tour of their facilities and sample some of their maple products including maple cream and maple popcorn. Bring a jug of syrup home with you. All guests receive a 10% discount on retail items. More Information >>

Clear Creek Farms in Mayville is also hosting events during Maple Weekend and in addition to maple production demonstrations, they’re offering rides on a horse-drawn sleigh. There’s also some interesting maple products to sample, like maple-coated nuts and maple mustard.

Johnson Estate Winery Maple aperitif

Johnson Estate Winery Maple aperitif

Clear Creek Farms is dedicated to sustainable farming and along with maple sugaring, they operate a sheep farm which is always fun for the kids. More Information >>

But syrup isn’t just for pancakes. Johnson Estates Winery in Westfield is offering a unique twist on Maple Weekend where a maple aperitif will star in the winery’s lineup of offerings, served in their beautiful turn-of-the-century tasting room. The aperitif is a fortified beverage made in the winery using local grape spirits and Chautauqua County syrup.

Pair the aperitif with freshly-made French crepes drizzled with Big Tree maple syrup and toasted nuts. Crepes are $3.00 per person. More Information >>

Southern Tier Distilling Company - Maple Aged Spirits

STDC’s Maple Aged Spirits

Fairbanks Maple in Forestville is all set to show visitors the modern maple sugaring process from tree-to-jug. And once you sample the real deal, they insist you’ll never buy Mrs. Butterworth again.

Watch as the experts collect the sap, operate the reverse osmosis machine, boil and then finish the product. Afterwards, help yourself to the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast served with sausage, eggs, applesauce and drinks for $7.50 for adults and $3.50 for children.

Fairbanks Maple will be participating both weekends during Maple Weekend and serving breakfast from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm on all four days. Top off your visit with a free horse-drawn carriage ride from 10:00 am to 4 pm on Sundays during the event. More Information >>

Chautauqua County’s strong ties to sugaring means that local syrup is used in some of our area’s most coveted locally-produced products.

Sugar Shack in Westfield, NY

Sugar Shack – Westfield, NY

The nationally acclaimed Southern Tier Brewing Company’s  sister distillery, Southern Tier Distilling Company, makes a Maple Aged Spirits, a rum styled spirit with a maple and vanilla taste profile. Visit their Empty Bottle tasting room for a sample or have one of the bartenders shake up a Hot Maple or a Maple Aged Spirit Rumrita.

And then there’s the magical Sugar Shack along the shores of Lake Erie in Westfield. Their delicious syrups are all made on their farm. It’s a treat to wander into their quaint shop and sample several of their 27 flavors of syrup—made with their own homegrown fruit. From elderberry to currant raspberry, the Sugar Shack prides itself on its fresh ingredients.

Reds Best Pancake House

Red’s Best Pancake House

If you’re looking for a breakfast place to adopt for Sunday mornings during the early spring months and October, Red’s Best Pancake House in Sherman has folks lining up at the door for their all-you-can-eat buckwheat pancakes served with sausage, applesauce, coffee, juice, and tea and their own pure maple syrup made on site each spring. They’re one of many establishments that takes pride in our area’s bounty of sweet and locally-produced maple syrup. Just be sure to check their hours of operation before getting in the car and heading out to the country. Red’s is only open on weekends during the late winter/early spring and weekends in October.



If You Go:

Maple Weekend takes place over two consecutive weekends: March 17-18 and 24-25


Big Tree Maple

2040 Holly Lane

Lakewood, NY

Phone: (716) 763-5917 or (716) 484-7633


Maple Weekend Events:

March 17, 18, 24, 25

Pancake Breakfast: 7:00 am to 11:00 am



Clear Creek Farms

5067 Morris Road

Mayville, NY

Phone: (716) 269-2079 or (814) 777-0038

Facebook: Gerber’s Clear Creek Farms, LLC


Maple Weekend Events:

March 17, 18, 24, 25

Maple Weekend Event: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm



Johnson Estate Winery

8419 West Route 20

Westfield, NY

Phone: (716) 326-2191 or (800) 374-6569


Maple Weekend Events:

March 17, 18, 24, 25

Hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Crepes in the Winery Event:  Crapes served from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm



Fairbanks Maple

1968 Shaw Road

Forestville, NY

Phone: (716) 965-4208 or (716) 785-2142

Facebook: Fairbanks Maple


Maple Weekend Events

March 17, 18, 24, 25

Pancake Breakfast: 8:00 am to 2:00 pm



Southern Tier Distilling Company Company

2072 Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, NY

Phone: (716) 763-5479

Tasting room hours are Friday (4-10pm) Saturday (12-10pm), Sunday (12-6pm) with tours every Saturday at 3:00pm



Sugar Shack

7904 Route 5 Westfield, NY

Phone: (716) 326-3351

Hours: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm daily



Red’s Best Pancake House

2749 Clymer Sherman Rd

Sherman, NY

Phone: (716) 761-6020

Facebook: Red’s Best Pancake House

Hours: Open Saturdays and Sundays from February 3th through April 14th; 7:30 am to 2:00 pm


Margot Russell is an experienced, versatile writer whose career spans more than 30 years in print and broadcast journalism.  Her weekly column in the Jamestown Post-Journal chronicles the triumphs and foibles of everyday life. Margot is a published author, a freelance feature writer and a script writer for The History Channel.  She also coaches other writers to realize their potential.

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