SIU’s expanded Maple Syrup Festival this weekend

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s annual Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast just keeps getting bigger and better, with numerous new activities added to the lineup for Saturday and Sunday at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.


Check out the animals – real and mascots

The Critter Corner is new for the 2019 festival. Participants can see and learn about all sorts of reptiles, amphibians and crayfish native to the region, as well as their habitats. It all happens at the River Radio Retreat from noon to 2 p.m. each day.

Also on tap are assorted children’s activities hosted by the Saluki Environmental Educators, an SIU registered student organization. Sessions begin at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. in LB Sharp Lodge.

Brown Dawg will appear from 10 a.m. to noon and children can also meet and get pictures with Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl from the United States Forest Service, Leave No Trace’s Bigfoot, and Puddles the Blue Goose from the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

The mascot meet and greet happens in the Friends Room.

Learn to embroider

An embroidery presentation and workshop has also been added on Saturday, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the LB Sharp Lounge. Cathy Grafton of Prairie Quilts & More will discuss the history of embroidery and participants will learn and practice up to 10 basic stitches while creating a small stich sampler.

The workshop welcomes beginners as well as those interested in brushing up on their skills.

The $10 registration fee, payable at the workshop, covers instructions and materials, including a kit with fabric, needles and thread. The workshop is open to the first 10 people to sign up.

Festival offers lumberjacks, hikes, syrup-making demos and more

The Maple Syrup Festival will also feature lumberjack competitions and demonstrations, presented for the third consecutive year by the SIU Forestry Club. Catch the shows on the half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day at the Camp 2 ball field, by the Lions Pavilion.

You can also see how sugar maple sap is harvested to make syrup during demonstrations at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the River Radio Retreat. Throughout the day near the Little Grassy Lodge, you can enjoy evaporator demonstrations that illustrate how the sap is boiled to make syrup.

Interpretive hikes will begin at the Freeberg Hall Friends Gazebo at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Or, weather permitting, test your skills on Touch of Nature’s portable climbing wall.

In addition, the festival will feature the handiwork of a variety of vendors and artisans in addition to interactive demonstrations. Natural woven baskets, silk embroidery, beekeeping, rope making, handmade textiles and jewelry, natural soaps and lotions, wood and pottery products, hide tanning and primitive living skills will be highlighted.

Taste real maple syrup

The popular annual pancake breakfast features maple syrup made from sap harvested at Touch of Nature, served atop homemade pancakes. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In advance, tickets are $12 for ages 13 and older or $6 for children ages 6-12. Children age five and younger eat free. Get tickets online prior to the fest to qualify for the reduced pricing.

Tickets will also be available at the door for $15 and $8.

Everyone welcome; much is free

The multi-faceted, family friendly Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast are open to the public. The only cost is for the pancake breakfast and the embroidery workshop.

For more information about the Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast, visit, call 618/453-1121 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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