Maple Syrup Festival set at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center

Homemade maple syrup, one of nature’s original comfort foods, is the star of the show at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s popular annual Maple Syrup Festival, set for March 25-26. 

The festival is happening at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center and features a weekend full of special activities, many of which are free, and a delicious breakfast featuring homemade pancakes and maple syrup harvested at the center. 

The fest, which is open to the public, is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the site, located about 8 miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road. 

Organizers said the event is a family friendly affair with something for everyone to enjoy.

One highlight includes lumberjack games by the SIU Forestry Club, with shows at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. 

The fest features other assorted children’s activities and a wide variety of vendors and artisans displaying and selling their wares, including handmade soaps, spices, jewelry, freeze-dried candy, artwork and more.

Vendors and artisans from throughout the Midwest will conduct interactive demonstrations. 

Visitors also can learn the process for making ropes and pottery and how early peoples survived in the wild. 

They also can discover how alpaca wool is spun into yarn to create various soft woven items and can test their skills at the climbing wall, as well.

Participants can also enjoy nature hikes and discover the time-consuming process that turns the maple sap collected from the trees onsite into the rich, tasty syrup. 

Live music is scheduled at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and an open cash bar will be available throughout the day, with lunch offered for purchase from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

There is no cost for enjoying the diverse array of festival activities, with the exception of the breakfast and any purchases made.

The home-cooked pancake breakfast will be served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day and tickets are now on sale. 

The pancakes will be topped with maple syrup made from sap harvested from Touch of Nature trees, served along with sausage, fruit and drinks.

Registration is available online at or  by calling 618-453-1211. Tickets are $15 for ages 11 and older and $8 for ages 4-10. Children 3 and younger eat free. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival.

For more information about the Maple Syrup Festival or to register for the breakfast, visit, call 618-453-1121 or email

Sponsors of the 2023 Maple Syrup Festival include SIU and its Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, the SIU Credit Union, River Radio of Southern Illinois, LiUNA Midwest Region and Paul Melzer of Countywide Insurance in Murphysboro. Triple C Meats is supplying local sausage.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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