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Middlebury museum holds weekend mystery maple tour

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 8:35 AM EDT
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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - The statewide Vermont Maple Open House Weekend has been called off this year, but a local sugar adventure in Vermont is still a go.

“This year, 2021, is really important because we are celebrating Henry’s 200th birthday,” said Mary Manley, the associate director of the Henry Sheldon Museum. She says their namesake was a staple to Middlebury. “He collected things from his day, from his time living in Addison County, so it reflects a lot of the material culture, the social history, of what was really going on in Middlebury and really Vermont in that time.”

So this year, to both fundraise for the museum and celebrate his life, they have created the Sugar House Mystery Tour on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. “It’s going to get people all over Addison County looking for five different sugarhouses,” said Manley.

On top of a little educational background, and the occasional sweet treat, there is also a surprise waiting for visitors every time they head into a sugarhouse. Once you get to the actual sugarhouse location, there will be an opportunity to take a picture with Henry Sheldon and sugarhouses say they are just excited to have people back.

“Our sugarhouse is really designed to have people come and visit and learn about sugaring,” said Kenn Hastings with the Bread Loaf View Farm in Cornwall.

He says his sugarhouse has always been community-oriented, but it’s been a while since they could show off the process. “For us, it’s an adrenaline rush. We’re gonna get the floors cleaned and the cobwebs off, for us, it’s been a couple of weeks since that’s happened,” said Hastings. He says he’s just excited to celebrate and welcome people back safely -- and of course, learn. “There is always something to learn, every time you come here, you should have another tidbit of maple information.”

Organizers say this is the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy what Vermont has to offer. “So, essentially our sugarhouse is really designed to have people come and visit and learn about sugaring and tell their stories sometimes about sugaring. So, it’s very community-oriented, always has been. The fact that we haven’t done it since last year, when it was presented to us. It was like, yeah, we need to get people back in here again, so it gives us a chance to explore how this will work for us, in the future even,” said Hastings.

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