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Camp Lazarus to tap into syrup makers' expertise

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In a quiet wooded area off the busy U.S. Route 23 is the Simon Kenton Boy Scout Council’s Camp Lazarus.

For two Saturdays, March 1 and 8, the camp will be filled with the noise from bluegrass music, a cannon, blacksmith tools and wood chopping as visitors for its annual maple syrup festival arrive.

The festival, in its 27th year, is put on by a large number of volunteers. Two of the volunteers, Bob Hudler and Bob Losee, work in the maple syrup cabin. At the popular event attraction, visitors will see the equipment that’s used to boil the tree sap down to maple syrup.

“If it’s a good turnout, we have people come in one door and out the other,” Hudler said.

Making maple syrup is a long process, taking hours to complete.

“After the time we light the fire, it’s probably four to six hours before we get syrup,” Hudler said.

About 730 buckets collect sap from maple trees marked with red paint on the property. Hudler said it takes six to eight hours to collect the buckets.

“It takes 50 to 60 buckets of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup,” Hudler said.

Festival organizer Sara English said the experts like to demonstrate.

“We love to show the kids how to do it,” she said.

Many of the volunteers have been doing it for years.

“It’s a labor of love of for all of us,” English said.

Although it’s billed as a maple syrup festival, lots of other activities are featured. This year, the event includes Civil War re-enactors, tomahawk throwing, pioneer tools, blacksmithing, Native American dancers, hayrides (weather permitting), rope making, wood chopping, two-man saws, A BB gun range, wood branding and leather stamping. In the log cabin to the front of the blacksmith shop, visitors will have an opportunity to try their hands at turning wood with a lathe and taking the ladder up to see the loft. It’s an interactive event.

“We let groups of about no more than eight in here and let them go up to the loft,” blacksmith volunteer Dennis Devine said.

In addition to selling maple syrup, other food offered at the festival is an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast for $5, featuring pancakes, sausage and a drink. Fry bread and bean soup with cornbread will be for sale for $2 each.

English suggests that visitors park their vehicles in the lot at Columbus State Community College’s Delaware campus, about a mile south of the camp, and take the free shuttle to the festival. The camp itself is about 9 miles north of Interstate 270, off U.S. Route 23.

The cost to enter the festival is $5 per person.

Devine said many visitors likely would spend the whole day at the festival.

“Dress warmly and be prepared to walk around,” he said.

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