TappingHub Photo: Maple sap buckets could be found around the festival as trees were being tapped.

Cheryl Kryzaniwsky

When the sap starts to flow you know that Spring has arrived and last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Saugeen Bluffs Maple Syrup Festival for the first time. It's the largest festival of its kind in Grey Bruce and is held at Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area each year. This year the event took place April 2 and 3.

Plenty of volunteers were on hand to explain the process - from the tapping of the trees to the boiling of the sap and finally to the final product - pure, mouth watering, Canadian maple syrup.

Each year the trees are tapped in a slightly different area preserving the health of the product and the sustainability of the trees.

Canada produces 71 percent of the world’s maple syrup and last year that translated into 67.6 million pounds. The United States is our primary importer.

The festival provides a great education opportunity for the many families who attend. It's always fun to see kids figure out where something they eat comes from.

I learned that pure maple syrup can be used as a healthy alternative to sugar in a variety of dishes including pies and cakes as well as barbeque sauces for poultry, meat and seafood.

It was a fun-filled afternoon with numerous activities including a reptile tent, the West Coast Lumber Jack show, a petting zoo, horse drawn wagon rides and a full pioneer encampment.

The lumber jack show provided non-stop, action packed entertainment from axe throwing to chain saw competitions. One of the lumberjacks was a woman from London, Ontario, Jackie Ramsey, certainly a non traditional job for a woman.

The tents selling maple flavoured products including cotton candy and popcorn were popular but the hot maple dipped donuts were a crowd favourite.

This was my first, but certainly not my last visit to the Saugeen Bluffs Maple Syrup Festival. I came home proud of the syrup we make and export and thrilled that such a fun-filled, educational opportunity is available each year, in my local community.

ChainsawHub Photo: Steve Hebert, owner of West Coast Lumberjack Show uses some precision chainsaw cutting to create a small chair from a log.

Replitle LadiesHub Photo: Scales Nature Park brought a selection of reptiles, mostly local, for visitors to handle. In the photo, Claire Kemp (L) is holding an Eastern Fox snake and Kelsey Crawford is holding a Blandings Turtle.