Burton’s Pancake Sundays Make for Sweet Weekends
March is all about maple syrup in Geauga County, a leading Ohio producer of the natural sweetener that Native Americans invented by pouring sap from maple trees into hollowed out logs by hot stones to cook it down to syrup. Ohio’s maple syrup season typically takes place in March when cold nights and sunny days force the sap out of trees.
Utilizing old-time buckets as well as modern tubing systems, maple syrup makers throughout Geauga County collect sap from trees, and during state-wide Maple Madness tours, they invite the public to visit their sugarhouses, where steaming evaporators turn the watery sap into golden syrup.
I love getting outdoors; walking or riding a wagon through maple groves on Geauga County farms; smelling woodfires and maple in the sugarhouses, and buying freshly bottled syrup directly from people who are preserving the time-honored sugaring tradition. But I also love that the county’s oldest village – Burton – has remained true to its own March tradition: “Pancakes Sundays,” which celebrate the all-American combination of pancakes and maple syrup.
Neatly perched on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, Burton was founded by New Englanders who settled in northeast Ohio in 1798, and it has been making maple syrup since 1931, when the Chamber of Commerce built a working, log cabin-style sugarhouse on the village green. After the village fire department began making pancakes as a fund-raiser in the early 1950s, the idea caught on with other local groups and organizations.
Today Burton is known as “Pancake Town USA” because on Sundays from March through early April, all-you-can eat pancake breakfasts are held throughout the village at venues ranging from the Burton Fire Station to Century Village living history museum.
Visitors like myself come from far and wide to enjoy hot-off-the-griddle flapjacks doused with maple syrup and accompanied by sides that include sausages and omelets.
Although Burton’s population tallies less than 2,000, an estimated 20,000 people annually attend the pancake breakfasts, and over the years, the villagers have served nearly two million pancakes. Of course, all those pancake lovers can’t go home without a souvenir, and what better souvenir than maple syrup from the Burton Log Cabin? Surrounded by maple trees that always have sap buckets in March, the Burton Log Cabin is a year-round attraction, but it’s especially popular on Pancake Sundays.
As the sweet smell of simmering maple syrup permeates the village green, people funnel into the Log Cabin to buy jugs of syrup and maple sugar candy or get warm beside the cheery stone fireplace. And outside, it’s always fun to watch children drizzle warm syrup over cold snow for an instant maple treat.