The seventh annual Jeffrey Woods Festival, held March 7 in Jeffrey Park, produced 140 bottles of maple syrup produced by extracting sap from maple trees in the park.
Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, the city's recreation director, Michael Price, and a team of volunteers conducted a maple-syrup-production workshop for residents at the park, behind Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave. The event also included wood chopping and woodworking workshops in which participants made coasters to take home.
"We have a lot of return participants for our wood-chopping event. I see some familiar faces come around for the maple syrup (workshop). I see a lot of new people, too, every year," Kessler said. "It's especially fun for us because we're an inner-ring suburb, an urban suburb, so to offer something that's a little more outdoorsy and a little more 'woodsperson-y' is unique. It's one of my top events of the year."
Residents who participated in the maple-syrup-production workshop each took home a bottle of syrup, with any extra bottles tentatively to be sold at Urban Emporium, 2260 E. Main St., on Arbor Day, April 24.
About 27 people participated in the wood-chopping workshop and 30 participants registered for the maple-syrup workshop, which is conducted in late winter when weather conditions tend to be ideal to collect sap, Price said.
"You want to have temperatures that are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night so it creates a pumping action in the tree and you'll collect a lot more," he said.
In the three weeks leading up to the festival, Ron Gould, a parks-maintenance superviser, said he installed more than 20 taps on maple trees in Jeffrey Park.
"You use a 6-inch drill bit; you drill about 2 1/4 inches into the tree, tap it into the tree and put a hose in the bucket" to catch the sap, Gould said.
Bexley City Council member Matt Klingler, chairman of council's recreation committee, said he and his wife, Jess, brought their two children to the festival for the first time this year. A former professional wood splitter and tree climber who is now a construction project manager, Klingler said the Jeffrey Woods Festival offers an out-of-the-ordinary entertainment option for local residents.
"We have a lot of sports; we have a lot of activities," he said. "It's something for people who love the outdoors and love something other than sports to get outside, come together and it's just something we can offer to the community that brings people together."