The 29th annual Maple Syrup Festival gets underway at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids today. Spokesperson Jan Aiels, says they begin with a pancake breakfast, and then some instruction.

“Folks learn how to identify a maple tree in the woods this time of year when there are no leaves. They learn how to safely tap that tree, how to collect the sap and they visit the sugarhouse here to see how the sap is boiled to create the delicious maple syrup,” she explains.

Aiels says this is the time of year when the conditions are right for the process. “You need these cold frosty nights and warm days to get up to 40-degrees, and the sap flows sweet and you can collect it to make maple syrup,” Aiels says. Aiels says many Iowans used to make the sweet treat.

“Historically on small Iowan farms when people did a lot more diverse farming , maple syruping part of the late winter activities and it was certainly part of the Native American’s activities tapped the maples along all the streams here in Iowa,” according to Aiels. The center has a small operation.

“We do syrup here primarily for the educational aspect of it. Each year we probably produce from 35 to 40 gallons of maple syrup that we then use for our programs and for our maple syrup festival,” Aiels says. The festival runs from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. today and tomorrow (Sunday).

Aiels says they will also do maple syrup making demonstrations throughout this month. Check their website at:, for more information on the programs.