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Maple Days

With his long white beard and traditional mountain garb, Kenyon called himself "Tapper the Mountaineer" and encouraged children to help him go through the motions of making syrup.

Kenyon let them hammer spouts into maple trees, prepare buckets for sap collection, and carry buckets of sap back from the "sugarbush" or stands of maple trees in the woods, then pour the sap into the evaporator which boils the clear sap down into thick, savory syrup.

The sugarhouse tours, breakfasts and demonstrations in Thurman continue for the next two weekends, in conjunction with a state-sponsored maple fest.

Hill, legislative coordinator for the New York State Maple Producers Association, said 17 maple producers in the area and 117 across the state will be participating in the state's Maple Weekends these next two weeks.

Hill and Senecal tap about 1,450 trees on a 10-acre sugarbush off Valley Road that the late Hollis Combs operated well into his 90s. Hill and Senecal bought the land and operation in the early 1990s and built a new, larger sugarhouse and have been operating it since.

Like the other producers including the Galushas, the Kenyons and Charlie Wallace, Hill and Senecal produce maple sugar, maple candy and a variety of confections as well as the familiar maple syrup. Special offerings included Cheryl Kenyon's maple chili, the Galushas' maple cream confection and Hill and Senecal's maple cotton candy.

Wallace, who recently opened his sugarhouse on Dippikill Road, used to sugar with Hollis Combs, a legend in his own time. Wallace now produces the dark, traditional syrup as Combs used to make it.

Hill and Senecal use modern techniques, including reverse osmosis which takes about five-sixths of the water out of the sap before its boiled down, saving a lot of fuel.

"When we had record fuel oil prices, reverse osmosis was our savior," Hill said Sunday.

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