RICHMOND — Stepping into the steam-filled sugar shack, Angela Smith inhaled deeply.
“That’s my favorite smell in the world,” she said.
As maple sap bubbled away in a wood-fired evaporator, the sweet scent in the air reminded Smith of making syrup at her father’s house.
Smith, of Lisbon Falls, was not going to miss Maine Maple Sunday, and she’d brought some companions, including Melissa Stearns, with her to Maine-iac Maple Farm in Richmond.
“It’s a Maine tradition,” Stearns said. “It means spring is coming. And it tastes good.”
Stearns’ 5-year-old daughter, Chloe, offered her take on the maple-drizzled French vanilla ice cream she was eating from a tiny paper cup: “Good.”
Chloe said she didn’t know how the maple syrup was made, but before setting off on a walk into the woods to see its source, she announced, “We’re going to see every step.”
Smith and the Stearns family were a few of the dozens of guests who stopped Sunday at Maine-iac Maple Farm, one of nearly 90 sugarhouses in the state that welcomed visitors for Maine Maple Sunday.
Maine-iac Maple Farm is a new addition to the spring tradition. Michael and Alice Meagher had made syrup before with their grandsons on a small scale, but Michael Meagher has expanded the operation now that he’s retired.
Meagher said he’s tapped 145 of about 250 maples on the property of their Pleasant Pond camp.
Like other syrup producers, the Meaghers have been dealing with slow taps because of the cold this season. Before Sunday they had produced only eight pints of syrup, and they hoped it would be enough to provide samples throughout the day. They weren’t selling any.
Meagher was relieved he was able to collect enough sap late in the week to fill the evaporator on Sunday.
“This is the first weekend we’ve been able to boil sap,” he said. “I think it’s going to get better.”