It's maple time, which you can celebrate in this region at several events, most of which seem to be happening this weekend.
The big daddy of them all, the Pennsylvania Maple Festival, runs March 16 to 17 and March 20 to 24 in Meyersdale, Somerset County. There's maple every which way, including a historical play on the subject: "The Legend of the Magic Water" will be performed for the 40th year at 4 p.m. March 23, at Meyersdale Area High School auditorium. The Lions Pancake House on Main Street will serve pancakes and sausage dinners from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first weekend, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second weekend, and Community Pancake Day will be held at the Lions from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Other fun includes a parade, car shows and cruises, a dance, a walk and a run. Admission to Maple Festival Park is $5 or $1 for children ages 6-12. Learn all about it at http://www.pamaplefestival.com.
This weekend is the 10th annual Maple Taste and Tour, an open house -- make that, open sugar shack -- event of the Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Producers Association. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, the public is welcome to visit one or some of the 15 producers in Crawford, Erie, Warren, Venango, and Mercer counties who are on a map they've put together for the event. Each stop will put on its own show and tastes; for instance, Hurry Hill Farm will be serving maple hot chocolate. Get a map and other details at pamaple.org/tour.html.
Also on Saturday, March 16, Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel is holding its Maple Madness event, with pancakes being served at seatings every half hour from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. For the first time, the event will be repeated March 23 at nearby Succop Conservancy in Middlesex, Butler County. After a maple-y brunch, take a naturalist-led hike to explore the local history of maple syrup, and see how an evaporator turns sap to syrup. Cost is $10 or $6 per member. Reserve at aswp.org or 412- 963-6100.
And if you head north of Pittsburgh for that, do stop in at the Edinboro Maple Festival. That event, in its fourth year, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17. Proceeds benefit the Edinboro Area Historical Society and Edinboro Volunteer Fire Dept. at 125 Meadville St., around which it unfolds. For $7 ($3 for children 12 and under) you get pancakes with local maple syrup and sausage, as well as live music, arts and crafts and other fun. More at http://edinboromaplefestival.com.
Other maple events of various sizes happen throughout the season. From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, it's the 36th annual Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival at Brady's Run Lodge on Route 51 in Fallston. It's all-you-can-eat buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes ($8 or $4 for children 12 and younger) with you-know-what, with crafters and entertainment. Souvenirs include not only syrup, but also buckwheat, corn meal and wheat flour, ground on site. More at http://beavercountyconservationdistrict.org.food
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.