MONTPELIER Gov. Jim Douglas today celebrated Vermonts first seasonal agricultural product of the year by tapping a maple tree on the State House lawn. The Governor officially kicked off the maple sugaring season in Vermont with the 26th Annual Governors Tree Tapping Ceremony. The importance of maple goes far beyond syrup. "The maple industry is one of the most important aspects of the Vermont economy producing nearly $250 million in economic value and Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States," the Governor said. "In addition to being the most plentiful, it's also the best." The Governor also encouraged Vermonters to participate in this weekend's Maple Open House Weekend. Activities during Maple Open House Weekend include maple sugarhouse tours where visitors can watch maple syrup being made, sample maple products and much more. This years Tree Tapping Ceremony included a sap-gathering contest between the House and Senate, old time open kettle sap boiling and sugar on snow.