Tap Into Maple and Outdoor Ballet This Spring

Words and photos courtesy of Seven Days

Tap Into Maple and Outdoor Ballet This Spring
By Carolyn Fox

Maple Open House Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20, and March 26 and 27, at participating sugar makers statewide. Find specific events and a sugarhouse map at

Spring is Vermont's sweetest season — when it comes to maple syrup, that is. This month, sugar makers across the state are preparing to welcome visitors into their boiling rooms and sugar bushes for Maple Open House Weekend. After two years off due to the pandemic, the maple madness is coming back bigger than ever, taking place over two weekends in March instead of one.

The expanded event will allow participating members of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association more time to engage with visitors — and give guests more opportunities to see sugar making in action. As the association's communications director, Cory Ayotte, noted, "Boiling times vary depending on which corner of the state you're in ... [and] we get producers from every inch of the state participating in the event."

Vermont produces roughly half of the syrup in the United States and turned out a record-breaking 2.22 million gallons in 2020. Roughly 125 of those hardworking producers participate in Maple Open House Weekend, said Ayotte, offering everything from syrup samples to specialty items to sugarhouse tours.

To plan a sweet road trip, check out the sugarhouse map on the association's website and look for nearby partnering businesses, such as breweries and bed-and-breakfasts, that get in on the fun. One destination worth the drive is Baird Farm in North Chittenden. On March 26 and 27, the 560-acre farm pulls out all the stops with syrup tastings, outdoor activities, maple-themed beer from Proctorsville's Outer Limits Brewing, and — wait for it — free coffee and rosemary waffles.

'Bees & Friends'
Opens on Sunday, May 22, at Wheeler Community Garden in South Burlington; additional dates and locations follow. See full schedule at

Ballet Vermont - events in spring
‘Bees & Friends’; courtesy of Brandon Parrish

April showers bring May flowers. And May flowers bring Bees & Friends, a balletic celebration of springtime set to Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Staged at outdoor settings by Ballet Vermont, "The production itself is all about bugs and flowers and growth," executive director Katie Decker said. "It is an excellent match for the spring."

A spirited exploration of pollination, metamorphoses, integrated pest management and bioluminescence, the show educates through characters like the ladybug: "She does this very slow, sultry, beautiful dance," Decker explained, "but as part of it, she's also sort of stalking these aphids ... because ladybugs are voracious whenever it comes to eating aphids."

Launched in 2015 with a mission to connect the arts with sustainable agriculture, Ballet Vermont leaps high to help audiences of all ages gain understanding of what's in their gardens. Offstage, the classical ballet company partners with educational organizations and food vendors to offer preshow festivals; highlights include Jerry Schneider, aka "the Butterfly Guy." Bees & Friends debuts this season on May 22 at Wheeler Community Garden in South Burlington and continues on June 4 at Middlesex's Camp Meade and June 5 at Williston's Isham Family Farm; more dates likely will be added.

Wherever you catch the show, expect "a family-friendly picnicking environment — lots of space for people to spread out and kids to dance along," Decker said. "We're really trying to make dance accessible in different ways."

That might mean performing a plié over a puddle — because spring in Vermont is, "you know, volatile," Decker added with a laugh.

About the series

This series, a partnership between Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and Seven Days, will run seasonally, presenting curated excursions in every corner of Vermont. The idea is to highlight the state's restaurants, retailers, attractions and outdoor adventures so Vermonters and visitors alike can plan safe, local trips and discover new corners of the state. Happy traveling, and stay safe.