Kentuckians tap into syrup industry at Kentucky Maple Day

Sophia Shoemaker

On Saturday, Feb. 5, the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office partnered with the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association to sponsor the third annual Kentucky Maple Day.

The event gave the public an opportunity to learn more about maple syrup production, visit Kentucky farms and buy local products. Local producers offered tours of their trees and operations. 

Farms all over the Commonwealth planned to participate in the event, although some had to reschedule due to the dangerous accumulations of snow and ice. Among those is Blues End Farm of Shelbyville, which moved their Kentucky Maple Day events to Feb. 12.

“Our driveway is a quarter-mile long and was covered in ice, so we just didn’t feel it was safe,” Doug Welch, Blues End Farm owner, said. “We [chose to reschedule] because we have been producing maple syrup for 13 years and taking part in Maple Day since it began.”

Farms like Blues End take this opportunity to serve samples of their goods and sell them.

“We serve samples of our maple syrup and maple desserts with our blueberries that we grew and froze over the summer. One of the crowd favorites is always when we pour the syrup over shaved ice, like a syrup snow-cone,” Welch said.

According to the UK Forestry and Natural Resources Department’s website, “In 1930 sugar was rationed, it was hard to get and expensive. Many rural Kentuckians made their own maple syrup and maple sugar in response to the difficult times using primitive, inefficient methods. Since then each generation wanted their children to have it easier than the previous. As a result we almost lost the fading memory of making sugar in Kentucky.”


In recent years, maple syrup production has increased in Kentucky, due to the ample amount of maple trees across the state and the demand for the product. In a Youtube video with the UK College of Agriculture, Letcher County maple syrup producers Seth and Cheryl Long said that the syrup industry is booming.

“It takes work to cook it down and to get everything set up, but there’s a lot of people who are interested in the product. You don’t have to worry about trying to sell this [product],” Cheryl Long said. “If you make it and you make it well, people want it.”

Farms use plastic tubing around the maple trees. It then runs down the hill through the tubes and is collected and cooked down into the syrup. Seth Long said that this makes hilly land an asset in the industry.

“People will say, that’s hillside property, it’s worthless, there’s nothing here. But there’s maple trees all over these hills, and we can tap into an untapped resource,” Seth Long said.

Kentucky Maple Syrup Day gave Kentuckians the chance to learn about production and maybe even try to tap into the growing maple market themselves.

“Kentucky is not generally known to be a maple producing state,” Welch said. “[Kentuckians] can learn all about production and how to do it themselves. I know people who have started producing their own maple sugar now.” 

More information on Kentucky Maple Day and the Kentucky maple syrup industry can be found on UK’s website.