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Day Trip: Nature's sweetener attracts visitors to village

Naper Settlement gets ready to make maple sugar

Demonstrations of maple-tree tapping will be part of Maple Sugar Days on March 14-15 at Naper Settlement in Naperville.
Demonstrations of maple-tree tapping will be part of Maple Sugar Days on March 14-15 at Naper Settlement in Naperville.

NAPERVILLE – The sap will be on the rise at Naper Settlement in time for Maple Sugar Days.

All it takes are nights with freezing temperatures and warmer days for the trees to be ready to yield the prime ingredient of maple syrup.

Following in the tradition of early settlers who tapped maple trees to make this historic sweetener, the settlement sets aside 2 days to share the experience with visitors.

A number of activities are planned. Demonstrations in maple-tree tapping and how to boil the sap to make the syrup, and lessons in how to dance a reel will make the visit educational, as well as fun.

While guests don't have to do the hard work of collecting and processing, they can roll up their sleeves at the "try it" stations to experiment with drilling and carrying a yolk and bucket.

Be on the lookout for the print shop, where visitors can make a maple-themed bookmark. Other houses and stores will be open for tours. Guests will have the opportunity to learn about spring festival traditions, mail order catalogues and Native American heritage. They even can find maple-flavored treats.

Naper Settlement is an outdoor museum, which brings the 19th century to life with the help of costumed guides and 30 buildings. During the winter, the visitor center is open. It contains exhibits and the Pre-Emption House Tavern. The tavern was built in 1834 in the center of Naperville. Today it can be rented for private meetings and parties. The inside of village buildings are closed now except when open for special events.

Exhibits at the center include the interactive Brushstrokes of the Past. The focus is Naperville's history through the work of Les Schrader, a Naperville artist, who lived from 1907 to 1984. The Play with History gallery features toys, dolls, board games and matchbox cars. Hands-on games and toys are there to be enjoyed.

Later this month, the Weed Ladies Spring and Summer Show and Sale will bring seasonal, silk and dried floral arrangements to the village. The sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19-21 and 1 to 4 p.m. March 22. Entry to the show is free.

Although it's chilly out there, add some sweetness to the day with a visit to Maple Sugar Days.

If you go ...

What: Maple Sugaring Days

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 and 1 to 4 p.m. March 15

Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville

When: Regular hours in March (end of winter season): 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Cost for regular hours in March: $5.25 for those 13 and older, $4.75 for those 62 and older, $4 for those 4 to 12 and free for those younger than 4

Costs for March 14 and 15 and spring season: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for youth, 4 to 12.

Information: or 630-420-6010

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