Maple Syrup Competition, April 5-7 2019

Competition Features Local Maple Syrup and Restaurants

One sure sign of spring in northern Wisconsin is when the “sap starts to flow.”  As day temperatures rise above freezing while the nights stay cold, the sap in sugar maple trees begins to move within the trees.  Tapping into trees during this time is how maple sap is collected, and next boiled down to maple syrup.  Many area families and friends gather every spring in sugar bushes to create this delicious treat.

This spring, the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce teamed up with UW-Madison Extension Iron County to bring more awareness and excitement around this annual harvest.  Extension Educators Amy Nosal and Darrin Kimbler recently launched “Tapping Into Our Maple Syrup Economy,” a series of programs to promote commercial production of maple syrup in and around Iron County, and Rita Franzoi of the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce helped to identify and organize a fun way to engage more people in the seasonal activity.  The purpose of the Maple Syrup Competition held on the weekend of April 5-7 was to encourage local restaurants to incorporate maple syrup into their menus and demonstrate how maple syrup can lend its flavor to a host of dishes.

Five restaurants threw their hats into the ring for the 2019 inaugural Maple Syrup Competition: Sharon’s East Wing, Branding Iron, Iron Horse Saloon, Burgers Bar & Grill, and Yukon 51.  Each restaurant was given maple syrup produced by Bob Rowe of Saxon, and with every maple syrup item ordered, the customer was given a ballot to vote on taste, visual appeal and originality.  A total of 126 ballots were tallied and two restaurants came out on top as the favorites.  Burgers Bar & Grill was rated the best for its featured dish of “Chicken and Waffles,” and Iron Horse Saloon was rated the best for its drink “Irish Maple Bacon Dream.”

“There is so much potential to incorporate maple syrup into a variety of foods, and it’s a natural resource product that this area has in abundance” explained Nosal, “It was really exciting to read comments on the ballots that indicated people were catching on to the idea.”  The Maple Syrup Competition is expected to be held again next year, and both Extension Iron County and Hurley Area Chamber aim to add more activities and events around maple syrup production alongside the competition.  For now, people interested in receiving updates on local and regional maple syrup happenings can join the “Tapping Into Our Maple Syrup Economy” email list at

Chicken and Waffles by Burger Bar & Grill Maple Glazed Salmon by Branding Iron

Your Daily Globe newspaper article (1 page PDF)

Iron County Miner newspaper article (1 page PDF)

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