Maine Maple Sunday Weekend will be back this year in all its sweet glory.

More than 100 sugarhouses will be opening their doors Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the half million gallons of maple syrup produced in Maine every year. In the United States, only Vermont and New York produce more syrup. The annual festival marks the changing of the seasons in Maine (from winter to mud), and visitors are often invited to eat pancakes and explore the source of the sticky stuff on top.

The onset of COVID-19 in March 2020 forced producers to cancel their plans for the weekend at the last minute. The Maine Maple Producers Association launched an October festival that year to boost business and showcase treats. The spring event returned in 2021, but many producers skipped the stacks and sold their wares without the fixings. With more people vaccinated and case counts declining, many farms will return to old traditions this weekend.

Scott Dunn, president of the Maine Maple Producers Association, said farms can earn as much as half their annual revenue during the annual celebration, so this weekend will be welcome after two difficult years.

“It really looks like we’re back full steam,” Dunn said.

Jason Lilley, the sustainable agriculture and maple professional at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said the state’s 500-plus licensed producers were left reeling in March 2020.


“Maine Maple Sunday is the weekend that many of our small- and medium-scale producers sell the majority of their crop,” he said. “To have that just completely disappear, and really within a week or so of the event itself, caused a lot of uncertainty and a lot of stress.”

Lilley said maple producers did not qualify for the first round of government aid like the Paycheck Protection Program, but they could apply in subsequent rounds. The industry includes producers big and small across the state, so everyone had different experiences. But Lilley said he talked to producers who made out OK because of the loyal customers who still supported their favorite spots through curbside pickup or online sales. (Also, the desire for comfort food was strong that year.)

“Despite having lost that major event, the Maine maple producers saw increased sales that were sustained through that year partially due to an interest from the community in supporting local agriculture, but also due to people being home and having maple syrup on their oatmeal in the morning,” Lilley said.

In 2021, Lilley said, the state had a better understanding of the virus and used that knowledge to create some guidelines for a scaled-back version of Maine Maple Sunday Weekend. But the weather created yet another problem. Key to sap production is a cycle of thawing and freezing – the temperatures need to reach the high 30s or 40s during the day and then drop below 32 degrees at night. Lilley said the state experienced an average number of those cycles last year, but for some reason, the sap had a lower-than-usual sugar content.

“What that meant was that maple producers had to boil that sap down for significantly longer to get the right sugar concentration for finished syrup, meaning they had lower yield than past years,” Lilley said. “We don’t fully understand why that happened, but the hypothesis right now is that droughts a year ago or even two years ago or extreme weather patterns directly impacted that.”

The entire Northeast took a hit. Maine produced at least 590,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2020 and just 495,000 in 2021, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. But Lilley said this year looks to be a better one. The low temperatures would ideally be colder, but the conditions have still allowed for moderate sap flow, and producers aren’t reporting a recurring problem with the sugar content.


That means Suzanne Guillemette will still have enough sap to make her traditional French Canadian treats at Brookridge Boilers in Lyman. The most popular is tire sur la neige, which in French translates roughly to “sugar on snow.” Guillemette sells the maple taffy by the tub. She usually does a live demonstration of the production, but she cut that from the program this year.

“I don’t have any snow, first of all,” she said with a laugh.

People always have called weeks in advance to reserve their particular grade of syrup, but preorders really took off during the pandemic. Guillemette said she likes to know what the demand will be for different products. But she is also looking forward to the conversations she has missed during the last two years, like the reminiscing with people who used to tap trees as children in Canada.

“There’s a lot of great stories when they come to buy,” she said. “You have a little more time. The past couple years, it was the porch pickup. I’m talking to them through my window. Last year, we were behind the Plexiglas and the masks and had the chance to talk, but it wasn’t as personal.”

Every farm has its own style, and visitors sometimes hop from sugarhouse to sugarhouse during the day. At Dunn Family Maple in Buxton, they’ll be serving up pancakes with Maine wild blueberries and fresh maple doughnuts. But even with those treats on hand, Dunn said, he’s most excited to take people around the farm on tours again.

“We really get to celebrate our love for maple with everyone from the public who shows up and show them how we do it and why we do it,” he said. “It’s the passing of winter into spring.”


Jo-Ann Merrifield said the biggest loss for their business in 2020 was the wasted treats that were ready and waiting for the weekend festivities. Maple syrup that is packaged and unopened will keep, but maple whoopie pies and candy-coated nuts have a shelf life. This year, Merrifield Farm in Gorham has been open every weekend in March for retail sales, maple coffee and maple baked beans to go. But the coming weekend will also feature a blacksmith demonstration and rides on an ox cart. People who have stopped by to stock up on syrup have been promising to return for the festivities.

“People want activities,” Merrifield said. “They want to come and watch a blacksmith. They want the pancake breakfast. They want to come and listen to music and see things happen. People are ready to get out.”

Every farm has different offerings and schedules for the weekend. Go to to scout out your stops using their map and searchable list of participating sugarhouses. If you click on a specific farm, you can see the address, the hours it will be open on Maine Maple Sunday or beyond, and what products will be sold or what activities will be offered.

“You can never go wrong with anything maple,” Guillemette said.

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