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The Times
  • Chilly weather doesn’t spoil annual Sugaring Off

  • Just outside of where Gen. Nicholas Herkimer called home over 200 years ago, a pot of sap boiled with a piece of salt pork hanging over it.

    Dain Faville, vice president of Friends of the Herkimer Home and a re-enactor, said boiling the sap for several hours was one of the key steps in making maple syrup or sugar in Colonial times, and that is how Herkimer and his family would have done it.

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  • Just outside of where Gen. Nicholas Herkimer called home over 200 years ago, a pot of sap boiled with a piece of salt pork hanging over it.
    Dain Faville, vice president of Friends of the Herkimer Home and a re-enactor, said boiling the sap for several hours was one of the key steps in making maple syrup or sugar in Colonial times, and that is how Herkimer and his family would have done it.
    “With this house as one of the largest in Herkimer County in the 1770s, Nicholas Herkimer’s family and neighbors all would have been here for the annual ‘sugaring off,’” said a re-enactor posing as Maria Herkimer, his wife.
    This was part of the 35th annual Sugaring Off held at Herkimer Home State Historic Site on Sunday. The traditional kick-off to the season came after months of uncertainty about the home’s future with the state threatening to close it down due to budget cuts.
    With the help of local state legislators — state Assemblyman Marc Butler and state Sen. James Seward Oneonta — and others, enough funds were included to keep the home open.
    Glimmerglass State Park will maintain Herkimer Home as a “satellite” site under a tentative agreement with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
    The Friends of the Herkimer Home has also taken on a greater role in operating the grounds.
    Barbara Mielcarski, president of the Friends group, said she was worried when she saw the rain clouds Sunday morning, but was glad to see it clear up in time for the afternoon event.
    “We’re all enthusiastic [about Sugaring Off] and that it’s going to be a good year,” said Mielcarski, who also dressed in Colonial style clothing.
    Hundreds of people attended the event to learn about how maple syrup was made in the 18th century, about Gen. Nicholas Herkimer and life in Colonial New York. Herkimer was famed for leading his troops after suffering a fatal wound during the Battle of Oriskany.
    One of the highlights was “An Attack on a Sugarbush,” where re-enactors acted as raiders firing upon a home while a family worked on the maple syrup process. Raids were common at the time, leaving many to abandon their farms or homes.
    Visitors could also sample some maple products, including sap straight from the tree. John Kozak dipped sticks into a thicker form of maple syrup and rolled it in snow and ice for the snack Jack Wax.
    Robin Nalaskowski, of Herkimer, attended the event with friends and family who were interested in everything. “It’s our second time coming,” she said. “We like seeing the house, the ride on the horse wagon and looking out for the reenactments.”
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    Page 2 of 2 - For more photos from Sugaring Off, check the online gallery.
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