Maple Days planned at William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington

Feb 28 2018

The event will take place March 3 and 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 207 Bryant Road, Cummington.

CUMMINGTON–Maple Days at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead will be a time to make sweet memories with family and friends.

The event will take place Saturday and again on March 10, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 207 Bryant Road, Cummington.

It’s sugaring season in New England and time to celebrate the tradition of tapping trees the old-fashioned way and take a step back in time at the boyhood home of one of America’s foremost 19th-century poets.

Located on a hillside overlooking the Westfield River Valley, the homestead is on the site of the original Cummington community founded in 1762.

The Bryant homestead is home to a 200 year-old sugarbush that was tapped during Bryant’s childhood and later by the farmers and caretakers of the property. “This year, we’ll be putting in a new hiking trail for folks to walk and see this impressive stand of maple trees and the site of the sugar house’s ruins,” said Andrea R. Caluori, engagement site manager for The Trustees Northwest properties, which includes the Bryant homestead. “While I don’t know if Bryant and his family specifically anticipated this time of year, many New England farmers certainly did since it was the first agricultural harvest of the season.”

The sugaring season is not only the time of year when sap is collected and boiled into syrup, “it also represents a significant piece of our rural New England history and the many cultures and peoples who utilized maple trees’ sap for sustenance,” Caluori said. “There is a longstanding tradition and history regarding the sugaring season, and it is still such a strong part of our New England culture and highlights the many local maple producers that continue to sugar in our region today.”

Maple Days at the homestead will include a pancake breakfast in the parlor and dining room served on a first-come, first-served basis.

Before or after breakfast, visitors may take a walk through the property’s sugar bush and watch a 19th-century boiling demonstration with local historian Dennis Picard. They may tour the house and get a special look at Frances Bryant’s cookbook and learn about the history of maple syrup in New England, 19th-century cooking and recipes that used maple syrup.

Locally produced maple products and crafts will be for sale in the gift shop along with the homestead’s “From Tap to Table” cookbook featuring historic maple-inspired recipes.

“I think what people find fascinating is how the techniques and tools of sugaring have developed as well as what the sap has been historically used for,” Caluori said. “The Native Americans were the first to tap maple trees and had their own unique method of doing so. As the early colonists witnessed the native people’s way of collecting sap, alternative methods were developed. It’s interesting to learn how people have historically interacted with local land through agriculture and food consumption.”

The celebration of the sugaring season is a celebration of the hill towns’ special local landscape and “this place’s incredible story as an agricultural property and inspiration for Bryant’s nature poetry,” she said.

This is the second year the event will be hosted at the Bryant homestead.

Admission for members is $5 and for nonmembers $10, which includes breakfast and the demonstrations.

For more information, call (413) 684-0148.



Mar 2018