Governor Scott officially opens Vermont’s “sweetest season”
The unseasonably warm days and crisp nights through February have had the sap gushing, and the 2017 maple season is not only underway but off to a promising start.
Last year, Vermont produced almost 2 million gallons of maple syrup, from 4.85 million taps, which was an all-time record and almost half (47.3 percent) of all syrup produced in the United States—much more than any other state in the country. That’s enough syrup to generously cover more than 250 million pancakes. It accounted for over $350 million in total sales for the state’s economy.
Additionally, the maple industry supports more than 3,000 seasonal jobs across Vermont. “As Vermont works to attract more businesses and grow its workforce, maple syrup producers continue to provide a time-tested blueprint for economic success in our state,” said Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Michael Schirling. “For generations, Vermont sugarhouses and farms have proven that ingenuity and innovation keep Vermont sugar makers at the forefront of nationwide production.”
As a vital economic driver, Vermont’s maple season also plays a significant role in role in attracting spring tourists. Alongside Vermont’s high-profile ski industry, maple-themed events attract thousands of visitors during the spring months.
Governor Phil Scott officially kicked off Vermont’s maple season Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Silloway Maple in Randolph Center. The governor joined the Silloway family, Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts, members of the Randolph Center community, and the Orange County Sugarmakers to tap a tree and highlight the importance of the maple industry to Vermont’s economy, landscape, and heritage.
“It’s no secret that Vermont’s maple syrup is world-famous. It’s an important part of our brand and economy, and it draws tourists to Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “I could not be more proud of our maple industry. The hard work and ingenuity of those who support the industry represents what Vermont is all about.”
The maple business is a family affair for the Silloways. In 1940, Paul and Louise Silloway began their dairy operation in Randolph Center as newlyweds, and soon after, began tapping trees. Today, the dairy and maple tradition lives on through their children and grandchildren. Grandsons Paul and David Lambert run the sugaring operation, while another grandson, John, keeps the dairy tradition alive. “Maple and dairy—it does not get more Vermont than this,” said Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “This family business is creating opportunities in the community, and providing the next generation with a chance to stay on the land and make a living. Truly wonderful!” Scott closed the event saying: “Thank you to all Vermont sugarmakers, for creating jobs, keeping our landscape in production, building the Vermont brand, and making the very best syrup in the world!”
Silloway Maple holds tradition close, while also embracing innovation. In 2014, a new sugarhouse was designed and built, set facing the south, with a narrow northern roof, and a large southern exposure to accommodate seventy solar panels. Even on a cold day, the system can put out just over 15,000 watts, according to the Silloways. Averaging throughout the year, this energy supplies the sugarhouse, and also about half of the power used on the family dairy farm, just down the road.
Maple Open House Weekend
The biggest maple event of the spring is Maple Open House Weekend, taking place at dozens of sugarhouses and farms across the state, March 25-26. Events and products associated with Maple Open House Weekend include watching sugarmakers in action in their sugarhouses, maple syrup and maple specialties to sample and purchase direct from the sugarmaker, sugar-on-snow and venue-specific attractions, including pancake breakfasts, horse-drawn sleigh rides and live music.
Photo by Alison Kosakowski, Agency of Ag
A boy pours hot maple syrup over snow in a wooden trough, creating sugar on snow for visitors at at Silloway Maple in Randolph Center.