WHITEHALL, N.Y. — On Friday, March 10th NYS Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets Richard Ball helped celebrate the maple season with the annual tree tapping ceremony. This year’s tapping was held at Rathbun’s Maple Sugarhouse Restaurant in Whitehall, N.Y. Commissioner Ball was joined by NYS Assemblymen Matthew Simpson and NYS Senators Daniel Stec and Jacob Ashby.
This year’s ceremony was attended by many local maple producers as well as a large contingent of FFA members from Granville FFA and Greenwich FFA.
The day began with a tour of the Rathbun family sugarhouse given by owner Matt Rathbun. The steam was billowing as the sugarhouse was boiling a fresh batch of maple syrup. The Commissioner also spent some time meeting with the FFA members who were present, a few of whom have their own fledgling maple operations which they talked about with the Commissioner.
Commissioner Ball made some brief remarks and began by saying that the tapping ceremony is like a holiday for him each year. “It’s great to be here and especially great to be here with some ‘Blue Jackets’ representing the future of New York agriculture,” he said. He lightheartedly wished that he had worn his own FFA jacket for the occasion. He continued that maple brings back memories for him each year as he remembers some of his relatives participating in sugarmaking when he was a boy. “Maple is the first crop of the year in New York and it is made by small, family farms,” said the Commissioner. He also praised maple for being a part of the NYS Grown & Certified Program. “The Grown & Certified program takes into account environmental stewardship and food safety when producing food products and maple is a good example of this,” said Commissioner Ball.
Rathbun’s Maple lies along the line between NYS Senate districts 43 and 45, so owner Matt Rathbun offered two trees for tapping. The first tapping was performed at tree lying within Senator Stec’s district. The group then moved to a tree a little way away into Senator Ashby’s district to perform the second tapping.
Following the tree tappings all attendees were treated to a delicious meal of pancakes and French toast with pure maple syrup. The food was cooked and served by members of the Rathbun family in the restaurant.
The Rathbun family has been making maple syrup for eight generations. The family started making maple syrup commercially in 1961. The restaurant opened in 1986 and has been serving pancake breakfasts on the weekends ever since. Today, Rathbun’s Maple is owned by Matt and Wendy Rathbun and has around 8,000 taps collecting sap which is made into maple syrup, cream, candies, and other goodies. The restaurant is open on weekends year-round. To learn more about Rathbun’s Maple including products, restaurant hours, and more check out their website at www.rathbunsmaple.com.
Get a taste of the maple season yourself during the NYS Maple Weekends happening March 18-19 and 25-26. To find a producer near you to visit this maple season, check out the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association website at https://www.upperhudsonmaple.
About Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association
The Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association is a trade organization representing over 60 maple producers, including sugaring operations ranging from less than 100 taps to over 10,000. We work together to raise consumer awareness of pure maple syrup made in the Upper Hudson Region – Columbia, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties. Every spring, Association members host the popular Maple Open House Weekends. UHMPA members participate in other agricultural events and tours throughout the year, including multiple county fairs, to introduce the public to the wonderful tastes of maple syrup and other maple products.
–Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association