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North Country maple producers offering glimpse of their businesses

WEST CHAZY - The New York State maple industry is a sweet business to be in, and local maple producers want people to know.

Parker Family Maple Farm and Brow's Sugarhouse are participating in the second installment of the New York State Maple Producers Association Maple Weekend, this Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29.

The businesses both participated in last weekend's kick-off for the event, which was the first time in recent years Maple Weekend has been celebrated locally for more than one weekend.

Patricia Parker with Parker Family Maple Farm said she was excited about the turnout for last weekend's event. In addition to tours of their maple producing operation, the Parkers hosted a pancake breakfast to benefit the Northern Tier Snorunners Snowmobile Club. The breakfast, said Parker, helped draw in a crowd which largely showed interest in the history of their family business.

"It was just such a joy," Parker said of attendance. "It's a highlight of our lives to be able to explain to others what we do. We've been in business since 1889, so it's not just sugar-making to us. It's our family history."

Patricia Parker's son, Michael Parker, is a fourth-generation sugar-maker, and has taken his family's investment into the industry one step further. He serves on a task force for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets which strives to promote and grow the maple producing industry under the direction of Gov. David A. Paterson.

Currently, New York State is the second-largest maple producing state in the nation and third-leading producer in the world. That is progress Michael Parker said he would like to see continue, adding events like Maple Weekend are critical to growing the industry.

"We can't increase production without increasing our marketing," he said. "And, this is a chance for people to understand how maple syrup is produced and give them an understanding of our cultural heritage."

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