Tag Archives: Outdoors

IngenuityFest 2010 Bridging Art, Technology and Cleveland

In addition to the art and tech exhibits, IngenuityFest 2010 also gave access to the tunnels and pipeworks under the Detroit Superior Bridge.

With the opening night of Othello and the Botanical Garden’s RIPE Festival, there’s a lot to write about this weekend. Regardless, though, I wanted to quickly post about my visit to IngenuityFest on Saturday afternoon. 

This weekend, IngenuityFest returned for its yearly celebration of art and technology in Cleveland. The last time I attended was two years ago down on Euclid Ave. during the first annual TikiCon.  This year, the Festival’s venue was the subway level of the Detroit Superior Bridge.  Connecting both the east and west sides of the city, Ingenuity’s exhibits and performances were held all along the bridge, the old subway tunnels and in the pipeworks. The mission of IngenuityFest is to expose audiences to educational, immersive, and sometimes challenging works of art and tech from Northeast Ohio performers and artists, high tech and engineering firms, and local schools including Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Institute of Art and CSU. As in years past, it provided a unique experience that engaged attendees as both spectators and participants. 

With a 22-page guide to the artists and exhibits, there is definitely a lot to check out at the Festival. However, I’ll have to settle with listing my top 3 things from IngenuityFest 2010. These were not just my favorites, but also encompassed the Festival’s cross-section of performance, visual arts, technology and interactive offerings.

"Bridging" by Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels and Inlet Dance Theatre

 “Bridging” by Dancing Wheels and Inlet Dance Theatre:  Scott and I started our day by attending the premiere of “Bridging,” a beautiful performance by Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels (the first physically integrated dance company in the country) and Inlet Dance Theatre (internationally recognized for its modern dance performances). With an electronic score by local composer Jeremy Allen and innovative choreography that employed wheelchairs and segways, “Bridging” focused on the benefits of exchanging different points of view in a community. The choice of the Detroit Superior Bridge as the venue also served as a powerful metaphor for the collaboration between East and West sides and all members of the community that is needed if the city is to grow.     

Mural of the Cleveland skyline as part of the Cleveland West Art League's Line of Sight project

Line of Sight – The Bridge Span Mural Project: When it came to visual artwork, my favorite examples came from the murals that lined the span of the Detroit Superior bridge. Along the bridge span, members from the Cleveland West Art League have been painting murals on the plywood planks. Some murals were stylized renderings of the Cleveland skyline or commentary on social, economic and ecological problems in the city; other murals were non-Cleveland-related graphic designs and paintings. Either way, the murals are a unique way to beautify the walkway. When you walk along the bridge span, you’ll also have the opportunity to get up close to IngenuityFest’s signature installation: the man-made, sixty-foot-long Lifeline Waterfall. 

Dr. Sketch's Doodle Bar allowed guests to draw and write on any surface of the room

Dr. Sketchy’s Doodle Bar: One of the unique ways IngenuityFest promoted audience interaction was through Dr. Sketchy’s Doodle Bar. With white walls, white couches, white tables and pedestals, the Cleveland chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School provided a clean space and markers for attendees to sketch, write or doodle whatever they wanted. With nearby bars and djs, it was also a place where people could go to just hang out. The best part is that you didn’t have to be an artist to participate. Even Clue Into Cleveland left its mark along with a quick sketch of the bridge’s arches.   

Clue Into Cleveland left its mark on one of the benches at Dr. Sketchy's

 Some exhibits such as the Mural Project and Sketch Bar are ongoing installations throughout the weekend, other events are scheduled plays, concerts and operas. IngenuityFest continues today from 12-5pm. The schedule for Sunday’s events can be downloaded off of the website along with a map of the Festival. Also, admission is free, so it’s an inexpensive and easy way to experience the innovation going on in Cleveland. 

IngenuityFest 411:   

 

Labor Day in Cleveland – 3 Days of Festivals, Food and Fun

With Labor Day comes the unofficial end of summer. Even though the Fall Equinox is weeks away and there seems to be no end in sight to the stifling heat, Clevelanders who want to grasp that last bit of summer have a huge variety of festivals, parties, and other events to choose from this weekend.    

The Rock Hall celebrates its 15th Anniversary (from rockhall.com)

 

Kicking things off this weekend is the Rock Hall Ball. On Friday, Sept. 3, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a party from 8:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.  Live bands and DJs will perform, including soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed, alternative rock band Foxy Shazam and DJ Tommie Sunshine.  Two levels of tickets allow flexibility in cost. Platinum tickets ($55 member/$65 non-member) include access at 8:30 p.m., hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine until 12:30 a.m. and entertainment until 2 a.m. Vinyl Tickets ($15) include access at 10 p.m., cash bar and entertainment.    

Labor Day will also feature weekend-long festivals such as:    

  • Labor Day Oktoberfest – At the Berea Fairgrounds will be the 6th Annual Labor Day Oktoberfest. From attending previous Oktoberfests, I recommend indulging in this weekend of oompah bands, brats and beer.  In addition to the food and the beer, years past have had merchants and other organizations promoting a variety of ethnic backgrounds. New this year – the Cleveland Pops Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s celebrated Fifth Symphony.  I’ll be dusting off my alpine hat and putting on my polka-dancing shoes for this.
  • Cleveland Air Show – As the photo in my last post showed, I love attending air shows, and Cleveland’s annual celebration of flying machines at Burke Lakefront Airport is listed as one of the 101 Best Aviation Attractions. Although it runs Sept. 4 -6,  if you’re downtown this week, you can see – and hear – the jets and planes practicing.  Nearby businesses and museums will also be hosting ‘Watch Parties’ including Reddstone’s When Pigs Fly Block Party on Sunday and the weekend-long William G. Mather Air Show Deck Party at nearby Great Lakes Science Center.
  • Taste of Cleveland – The other major downtown festival this weekend is the 15th annual Taste of Cleveland which will feature national entertainment acts and regional food traditional to Northeast Ohio. In addition to the 30+ restaurants that will be at the event, there will be the American Wine School Tasting Bar and cooking demonstrations such as the “Cooking with Kids” parents/children class, the Ohio Natural Gas Ultimate Backyard Kitchen and the 7th Annual Time Warner Cable Mayors’ Dessert Cup Challenge. One of the entertainment acts Scott and I are most looking forward to: “Weird Al” Yankovic on Friday night. What can I say? We’re UHF fans.

Der Glockenspiel - an actual working clock - is one of the attractions at Oktoberfest (from clevelandoktoberfest.com)

 

If festivals aren’t your thing or you’re looking for a one-off event this weekend, there are other options including:    

  • The Cleveland Orchestra and Joffrey Ballet – On Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 p.m., the Joffrey Ballet returns to the Blossom Music Festival. The Ballet  joins Conductor Tito Muñoz and the Cleveland Orchestra in their presentation of Reflections (choreographed to music by Tchaikovsky), Tarantella (choreographed to Louis Gottschlak), and Pretty BALLET (choregraphed to Bohuslav Martinů). 
  • Cedar Point – Labor Day Weekend is the last weekend to visit the Soak City Waterpark in 2010. It’s also the end of Cedar Point’s regular season. Starting on Sept. 17, the park will open back up for Halloweekends.
  • Aut-O-Rama Drive-In – This weekend, audiences at the North Ridgeville drive-in movie theatre have their choice of a kid-friendly double feature with Toy Story 3 and Nanny McPhee Returns  or cult-classics-to-be Machete and Piranha.
  • The Happy Dog – DJ Kishka’s Polka Happy Hour is back this Friday from 6-9 p.m. (if you can’t make it to this one, he’ll also be at the Happy Dog on the 17th). After DJ Kishka, Adam Tanner and Mark Jackson of North Carolina’s Twilite Broadcasters bring their two-part harmony vocals and acoustic accompaniment to the Happy Dog from 9 p.m. til midnight.
  • Cleveland Polka Association Picnic – The Cleveland Polka Association’s B.Y.O.E. (Bring Your Own Everything) Picnic takes place on Monday, Sept. 6 at  St. Sava’s Picnic Grove (2300 West Ridgewood Drive, Parma). Gate opens at 2 p.m., musical performances run from 3-7 p.m. including Canton, OH’s Polkatones. (More information or large table reservations: 216-661-5227)

The Aut-O-Rama Drive-In presents Machete and Piranha (from autoramadrivein.com)

 

Fortunately, it’s a three-day weekend, which means plenty of opportunities to experience your share of these end-of-summer events.

Open Air in Market Square Summer Series Ends This Saturday

West Side Market and Market Square at W25th St. and Lorain Ave. (photo from westsidemarket.org)

This month’s Cleveland Sketch Crawl gathered in Ohio City for the Open Air in Market Square summer series.  As usual, it was another great opportunity to sketch the city’s limitless assortment of interesting architecture and people.  Regardless of whether you come armed with a sketchbook or just want to do some shopping and listen to music, the Open Air festival is a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the city.

Open Air in Market Square is Cleveland’s only urban outdoor market. On Saturdays from late May to the end of August, an eclectic array of vendors and performers set up shop in Market Square Park at the corner of West 25th and Lorain Ave (across from West Side Market).

This coming Saturday (August 28, 11am – 5pm) is the last day on the Open Air 2010 Summer Schedule.

When Scott and I went a couple weeks ago, we got to listen to the Hollywood Slim Band. Their jazz and swing covers were a nice soundtrack to the afternoon as people shopped and hung out on the park’s stone benches.  The Market Square vendors who were there were selling Cleveland photography, glass art, handmade crafts, and – my personal weakness – vintage clothing and housewares.

Bike Rack and Patio in front of Great Lakes Brewery (Aug. Sketch Crawl, ADHicken)

I spent most of my time sketching, though.  By far, I don’t compare to the talent of the rest of the group, but it’s still fun to get out, observe and practice drawing. The best part about this month’s Crawl was that there was so much subject matter to choose from.  Some of the Crawl participants gravitated to the musicians, others sketched the West Side Market tower and the surrounding buildings, and a couple of people managed to put pencil to paper to capture the bustle of the produce market. I’ve posted a few of my sketches – one of the bike rack by Great Lakes Brewery and another of a stone column in Market Square.  Each column in the Square is covered in tiles with community members’ own artwork on it – so picking out my favorite tiles to recreate was an hour well-spent.

Sketch of column and tilework in Market Square (Aug. Sketch Crawl, ADHicken)

This Saturday, rockabilly band Lost State of Franklin (11am-2pm), Troupe Shabaana bellydancing (2pm-3pm), and Kristine Jackson‘s acoustic blues (3pm-5pm) will conclude the Open Air in Market Square’s summer season.

If you stop by, plan on doing some food shopping across the street at the West Side Market. Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market is worth a post all its own, but if you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and bring an appetite.  With over 100 local vendors, I’ve never gone wrong in shopping there or left empty-handed.

If you like orzo, stop by Urban Herbs for a selection of different mixes. Pickles and stuffed olives? Rita’s. Cannolis? Theresa’s Bakery (they’ll handfill your cannoli to-order from a large selection of flavors; I recommend oreo, raspberry or peanut butter chocolate). Whatever you’re hankering for, they probably have it.  If you doubt me, here’s a complete list of food vendors and a map so you can find your way around.

Thanks again to the Cleveland Sketch Crawl for giving me an excuse (not that I should need one) to explore the Open Air in Market Square series. For those sketchers, painters and photographers who want to join in September’s Crawl, the group will be attending the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Sparx City Hop.  It’ll be a unique experience drawing the going-ons while hopping through 8 districts via trolley.  Art galleries, studio lofts, warehouses, stores, sidewalk concerts, mini-festivals, art shows, restaurants and bars are part of the event, and the Sketch Crawl group will meet at 11 am at E.4th and Prospect Ave. and go until 1pm.   Best of all – it’s free. (Info on the monthly Sketch Crawl can be found on the Cleveland Sketch Crawl blog.)

ON A SIDE NOTE: I’ll be taking another short vacation from posting.  Instead of another stretch of radio silence, I figured I’d have a friend of Clue Into Cleveland guest-blog for me.  Elizabeth Grepp – native Clevelander and huge fan of the eastside – will post on Cleveland Heights.  If you also would like an opportunity to wax philosophic on the Cleve, shoot me an email at clueintocleveland@gmail.com.   I’ll be back sometime next week with your (un)regularly scheduled program.

Cedar Point: Summer on the Roller Coast

With 17 coasters, including Mantis and Millennium Force (pictured), Cedar Point is home to the most coasters in the world.

The Cedar Point Coliseum, originally built in 1906, today houses an extensive arcade in the lower level.

Although summer officially begins in late June, the season seems to start weeks and even months before the solstice.

For some, summer starts the first time they dine on the patio of their favorite restaurant; for others, it’s when the neighborhood pool opens or they break out the grill for a barbeque.

For Scott and me, it’s the first time we go to Cedar Point.

From being surrounded by the history of summers long past, to the delicious assortment of traditional – and non-traditional – park food, and of course the rides, Cedar Point is the thing that most epitomizes summers in Cleveland for me.

The Town Hall Museum houses exhibits showcasing Cedar Point's history.

Long before it was the number-one-rated amusement park in the world, the Cedar Point Peninsula was used for fishing and hunting. In 1870, the idea of Cedar Point as an entertainment center grew when local businessman Louis Zistel opened a small beer garden, bathhouse and dance floor that he would bring guests over to with his steamboat Young Reindeer.

It wasn’t until 1892 that the first roller coaster – the Switchback Railway – was introduced. The 25-foot-tall, 10-mph coaster was the predecessor of the Maverick, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster of today.

Cedar Point helps preserve this long history with the Town Hall Museum. Located near the park’s Frontier Trail, it features displays, videos, mementos and parts of retired rides from the park’s past. One of my favorite features is the display of horses from a former Cedar Point carousel.

Growing up, I visited my fair share of amusement parks – from Kings Dominion right outside of my hometown, to Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Disney. However, it wasn’t until I came to Cleveland and visited Cedar Point that I found a park which successfully delivered not just superior rides but also food and entertainment.

Probably best known for its roller coasters, the park is home to the most coasters in the world — with a total of 17 ranging from wooden to steel, inverted, wildmouse, backward-and-forward launches, stand-up, and a dual-track racing coaster.

But it’s not just quantity that Cedar Point delivers, as three of the coasters are listed among the top 10 steel coasters in the world and year-after-year the park has received Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards in a variety of categories.

Regardless of how great a coaster is, though, you still need to be able to ride it.  One of the things that sets Cedar Point apart from other parks I’ve visited is how efficient the staff is at running the coasters and keeping the wait to a minimum.  For the most part, there’s no need for a ‘fast-pass’ system since most of the rides’ lines run from 15 minutes to an hour giving you plenty of time to fit the majority of the 17 coasters into a day’s worth of riding.

The steam engines of the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad provide a scenic trip throughout the park.

The 60 horses and chariots of the Midway Carrousel - the park's oldest operating ride - were repainted and restored for the 2010 season.

For non-coaster fans, the park also boasts a number of classic thrill rides such as the Matterhorn and Calypso (just one of the park’s variants on the Scrambler), as well as family-friendly, less aggressive selections.

When it comes to non-coasters, my personal favorites include the Cedar Downs Racing Derby – one of only two racing carousels in the U.S. dating back to 1920; as well as the Paddlewheel Excursions – a relaxing, narrated trip around the  Cedar Point Lagoon on one of the park’s paddlewheel boats.

And when we want to take a break from coaster-hopping, there’s always the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad.  As huge fans of model trains and classic locomotives, Scott and I never tire of taking the two-mile-long trip through the park on actual coal-burning steam trains.

Scott's grandmother enjoys dessert at last Halloweekends' Boeckling Banquet in one of the park's haunted houses.

Although many parks can deliver thrilling rides, they often lack in quality food options – suffering from dry burgers and grimy food courts.

Cedar Point, on the other hand, provides a myriad of dining options including standard park fare to grab on the run, the Midway Market buffet, and the Game Day Grille which offers an air-conditioned respite with pulled pork sandwiches, lobster bisque, and perch sandwiches.

In addition to the in-park restaurants, Cedar Point excels at serving up different events such as their Picnic at the Point outdoor bbq and the best park dining I’ve ever experienced — last Halloweekends’ Boeckling Banquet, a feast of lamb chops, lobster tail, and filet mignon in the dining room of one of the haunted houses.  No matter where I’ve eaten, I’ve always found the food to be appetizing and the venues well-maintained.

Among other vintage video games and pinball machines is a doublewide Hercules pinball machine with a cue ball for the pinball.

If excellent rides and food weren’t enough, Cedar Point offers a rotation of shows, games and entertainment.

Highlights have included the Hot Summer Nights fire show (try riding the Mantis coaster while the pyrotechnics are flaming close by) and the Starlight Experience canopy of lights through Frontier Trail.

There’s also the Main Arcade in the Coliseum on the Midway which gives the opportunity to play current arcade games as well as an extensive collection of vintage pinball machines and video games.

Not to rest on their laurels, Cedar Point is continually updating their selection of rides and entertainment. 2010 saw the debut of the water coaster Shoot the Rapids.  In 2011, Cedar Point is unveiling WindSeeker, a 301-foot-tall, nothing-below-your-chair-but-air experience that soars over the park’s beach!  With continual updates each year, Cedar Point provides new experiences for even the most veteran Ride Warriors.  (updated 5/15/2011 to reflect park additions)

Between the food, games and neon lights of the Midway, Cedar Point is reminiscent of an amped up carnival after dark.

With the exception of the warm weather’s return, visiting Cedar Point is my favorite part of the Cleveland summer months. Over the last couple of years, we’ve found that the Season Pass is the most economical option if you’re going to visit more than a few times. Between the free parking, admission to any of the Cedar Fair parks, and discounted renewals, the Platinum Pass usually pays for itself if we visit more than three times.  And with the coasters, local history, and feel of an endless summer carnival, there’s more than enough reasons to visit time and again.

Cedar Point 411:

General Park Info
Admission and Season Passes
Staying Overnight
Park History 

Things to do at the Park
Rides
Food
Shows

@CedarPoint

Cleveland Sketch Crawl 'Takes a Hike' This Saturday

    

Information about the Cleveland Sketch Crawl can be found at http://clevelandsketchcrawl.blogspot.com

 

Each month, the Cleveland Sketch Crawl provides artists, photographers, and sketching enthusiasts of all skill levels with the opportunity to get out in the city, learn about Cleveland and draw some really amazing stuff.  The first Sketch Crawl I attended was in April at the Carnegie West Library.  Unfortunately, due to Free Comic Book Day falling on the first Saturday of May and being out-of-town next week, I wasn’t able to go to the last one and won’t be able to go this month either.   

However, for anyone who will be in town this coming Saturday, June 5th, check out June’s Sketch Crawl.  It looks like it’s going to be a very unique sketching experience as the group participates in the “Take A Hike” Saturday walking tour.  A program of the Historic Gateway Neighborhood, “Take a Hike” features 4 different, free tours each week during the summer.  The Saturday tour is of the Historic Warehouse District and meets at 10 am at Constantino’s Market.   

The Sketch Crawl will be walking along with the rest of the tour group, so it’ll be an interesting exercise in speed sketching and quickly capturing the impressions of various locations. There are some amazing artists in the group, so I’m sure what they draw, paint or photograph is going to be fantastic.   

Detailed information about this month’s Sketch Crawl — as well as a look at the events for the next few months — can be found on the Cleveland Sketch Crawl’s blog.    

I had a blast in April and definitely can’t wait for July.  Three words: Tall Ships Festival.   

    

Cleveland Sketch Crawl / Take a Hike Program 411:

Cleveland Sketch Crawl
First Saturday of every month at varying locations
Sponsored by Downtown Cleveland Alliance
@DowntownCLE    

Take a Hike Program
Event Information
Sponsored by Historic Gateway Neighborhood

Cleveland Sketch Crawl: Discovering and Drawing the Carnegie West Library

Carnegie West Library Branch

The Carnegie West Library Branch in Ohio City was the location for the April CLE Sketch Crawl

 

 When I was in high school, I spent a sizable chunk of my time buried in a sketch book. I fashioned a makeshift studio out of a corner of my bedroom with an easel and supply cabinet. And instead of posters of musicians or actors, I decorated most of my spaces with prints by my favorite artists.       

Side view of Carnegie West Library Branch

The library is triangular in shape to conform to the outline of the park it's located on

 

In college, though, I fell out of practice because I didn’t make the time to pursue it. I still have the easel, and on occasion I’ve sat down, started something, then eventually given up because I was having problems coming up with subject matter. And while I’ve enjoyed my time spent with other pursuits, there have been moments where I missed the quiet of just working on a sketch for a couple of hours.      

Subsequently, it was a very happy accident when I purchased tickets for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Hidden Cleveland Tour and a link for the Cleveland Sketch Crawl caught my eye. As I quickly learned, the CLE Sketch Crawl is an ongoing series sponsored by the DCA that falls on the first Saturday of the month. A different spot is highlighted each month where the group gathers to learn a little history, then sketch it. And my favorite part … free access to some of the most interesting places in the city.      

Main Room of Carnegie West Branch

The first stop on the tour - the Main Room of the Carnegie West Branch

 

The most recent event was this past Saturday at the Carnegie West branch of the Cleveland Public Library. The Sketch Crawl met at 10 am on the steps of the library, which is located at 1900 Fulton Road. Before we set about sketching, the branch librarian went over the history of the building and gave a behind-the-scenes tour. Carnegie West is both the first branch library in the city (celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year), as well as the largest (28,000 total square feet).        

During the tour, we had the opportunity to see not only the main rooms of the branch, but also the old Dickens room, the former auditorium in the basement, and a handful of other rooms that are generally inaccessible to the public. Although restoration efforts need to be made to some of the rooms, a lot of the original – and beautiful – framing and woodwork is still there. Additionally, we learned about some of the upcoming events at the branch including their Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival (April 8, 15 & 22 at 5:30 pm) and a Jazz concert featuring the Oberlin College Music Conservatory (April 17 at 2:00 pm).      

St. Patrick's Church near the Carnegie West Branch

Other nearby buildings, such as St. Patrick's Church, also provided excellent subject matter for sketching

 

After the tour, we got down to sketching until noon. With its modified Renaissance style of architecture and brick structure with terra cotta trim, the exterior of the library provided ample subject matter for a number of us. However, the park and other nearby structures — such as St. Patrick’s Church on Bridge Avenue — were also interesting.  Even the interior of the library was where some focused their attention — one group member did a beautiful watercolor depiction of the art tiles above the fireplace in the Children’s Room.      

Although this was my first Sketch Crawl, this event series has been taking place since 2007.  Recent crawls have included the Metroparks Zoo’s Rainforest, the old Gospel Press Building, and Tyler Village – former home of the Tyler Elevator Company. And now that the weather is turning warm, the May Sketch Crawl is supposed to be at the Mather/downtown lakefront area.      

Besides getting to explore unusual spots in Cleveland, the Sketch Crawl is worth checking out because it provides a low key venue for people who use a variety of mediums (from pencil, ink, and charcoal to watercolor and photography) and also bring different skill levels (from someone like me – who was 10 years out of practice – to individuals with a finely developed skill). I’m excited to check out the Sketch Crawl in coming months and am pleasantly surprised that my new pursuit of discovering and writing about Cleveland has led me to rediscovering another pursuit I used to enjoy so much.      

Closeup of exterior columns

Beautiful detailing on and around the exterior columns

 

     

CLE Sketch Crawl/Carnegie West Library 411:

Cleveland Sketch Crawl
First Saturday of every month at varying locations
Sponsored by Downtown Cleveland Alliance
@DowntownCLE      

Carnegie West  Branch Library
Location and Hours
Branch Events/Programs

Maple Sugaring at the Cleveland Metroparks

   

Maple Trivia: It takes 40 Gallons of Sap to Make 1 Gallon of Syrup

 

 The Cleveland Metroparks – nicknamed the ‘Emerald Necklace’ of Cleveland – are a system of beautiful nature preserves throughout the region.  In addition to giving Clevelanders access to scenic walking, bicycle and horse trails, golf courses, picnic areas and fishing holes, the parks also host numerous events throughout the year for nature education.    

On the Maple Trail

 

This past weekend, Scott and I joined a couple of friends at the Cleveland Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation to check out the last weekend of their History of Maple Sugaring tour. Each year, from the end of February until the beginning of March, the temperatures in the Northeast Ohio region are the perfect condition to produce sap. For just a couple of weeks, the temperatures are above freezing in the daytime and below freezing at night which triggers the circulation of the sap throughout the trees’ sapwood. And with the trees’ production of sap comes the production of some of the purest maple syrup.  

Our group stopped by the Maple Grove Picnic Area in the Rocky River Reservation to check out the sap-to-syrup process. The first stop on the tour was the Sugarbush Trail during which our tour guide demonstrated the sap-collecting methods from early Native Americans and pioneers to modern sugar farmers. Each stop showed the progression from reeds and bark to wooden buckets, metal containers and finally the plastic tubing that is used today. At the end of the hike, we visited the Sugar House where we got to watch sap that had been collected from the area’s trees boiled into pure maple syrup.  

The highlight of the entire visit, however, was the opportunity to chat with Bill Miller — or as he jokingly referred to himself, ‘S.O.B.’ (Sweet Ol’ Bill). At 79 (though he didn’t look it!), Bill is an expert at the intricate process of boiling the sap into syrup. When the tour ended we hung around to look at the evaporator used to boil the sap. Bill walked up, introduced himself, and we spent the next 40 minutes learning everything we wanted to about maple syrup — from the role of photosynthesis in producing the sap to what causes the different grades of maple syrup. Chatting with Bill wasn’t just educational, but also entertaining — a definite don’t miss.  

One Way to Collect Sap from a Maple Tree

 

To cap it all off, we ended our visit with a sampling of the syrup that was extracted and made in the park. Volunteers served silver dollar pancakes with a dollop of the local syrup and sold delicious maple candy for a quarter a piece.  

As with a number of the Metroparks’ events, the entire tour was free — providing a great afternoon of engaging and educational storytelling for nothing.  

Unfortunately, this weekend was the final weekend of the Metroparks’ Maple Sugaring for the year. With the first signs of Spring appearing and temperatures (slowly) rising, the maple trees have stopped readily producing sap — which means it’s time for the Sugar House to pack up until next Winter when Maple Season resumes.  

   

Cleveland Metroparks 411:    

Plan Your Visit to the Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation
About the Reservation
Reservation Map
Directions  

Events and Volunteering at the Metroparks
About the Maple Sugaring Demonstration
Upcoming Events Calendar
Getting Involved at the Metroparks   

Twitter: @CleveMetroparks