Meet one of the originators of New Hampshire Maple Weekend

  • Barbara Lassonde fills a bottle of maple syrup on Thursday. It’s one of the various preparations Beaver Meadowbrook Farm is making for the Kearsarge Maple Festival, which takes place in Warner during New Hampshire’s Maple Weekend. Elodie Reed photos / Monitor staff

  • Samples of maple syrup sit along the windowsill in Barbara and Don Lassonde’s Warner sugar house. The couple started making maple syrup in 1972 in Concord. Elodie Reed / Monitor staff

  • Awards sit along the shelf in the Beaver Meadowbrook Farm sugar house. In 2003, the Lassondes won the coveted Carlisle Memorial Trophy for having the best maple syrup in New Hampshire. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Barbara Lassonde opens a book she put together called "Maple Sugaring in New Hampshire" to a page with a 1989 photo of her husband, Don, using their old evaporator. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Barbara and Don Lassonde stand for a portrait outside their Warner sugar house Thursday. The couple have been sugaring since 1972, and Barbara helped start the first New Hampshire Maple Weekend in 1994. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Though Beaver Meadowbrook Farm uses the more modern tubing technology to collect sap, they have a few old-style buckets for kids to empty on New Hampshire Maple Weekend. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • A main line runs through the sugar bush behind Beaver Meadowbrook Farm's sugar house in Warner. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, March 23, 2017

On Thursday morning, I drove into Barbara and Don Lassonde’s driveway to see Barbara tacking a poster to the side of the sugar house.

It was only appropriate that the man depicted in the poster, wearing a green full-body jumpsuit and pouring sap into an evaporator, looked an awful lot like Don. He’s married to the woman who helped begin the advertised event – the Kearsarge Maple Festival – as well as the statewide New Hampshire Maple Weekend.

The Lassondes began sugaring in 1972 at their Fisherville Road house in Concord as a hobby – they had a maple tree in the yard, Barbara told me, and both wanted to do it after seeing their New England relatives sugar.

“My uncle had 1,500 buckets,” Don said. “Can you imagine washing those at the end of the season?”

Once they began their own operation, Don said it was handy that they lived near a fire station.

“If we had too much smoke from the stove or too much steam, the fire department would come and check on us,” he said, chuckling.

Forty-five years and a move to Warner later, the Lassondes now use an oil-heated evaporator and have their method down. Ribbons from the New Hampshire Maple Producer’s Association as well as a silver, bowl-shaped 2003 Carlisle Memorial Trophy (for the best syrup in the state) line the wall of the Beaver Meadowbrook Farm sugar house.

In the meantime, the Lassondes have been heavily involved in the New Hampshire Maple Producer’s Association, and Barbara wrote the book Maple Sugaring in New Hampshire.

Don said their 300-plus tap operation is still a hobby. The Lassondes admitted that they may have even lost a few hundred dollars by the end of the season last year, but it’s all still worth it.

“I guess it’s in the blood, maybe,” Don said.

Barbara joked, “That’s why our blood sugar is high!”

Beaver Meadowbrook Farm is just one of dozens of sugaring operations offering maple syrup samples, baked goods, coffee and sugaring demos during New Hampshire Maple Weekend on Saturday and next Sunday.

At the Kearsarge Maple Festival alone, nine sap houses will be open, plus most downtown businesses in Warner. The Mt. Keasarge Indian and Little Nature museums will also be offering demonstrations and food samples.

In the Concord area, the following sugaring operations will welcome visitors:

Mapletree Farm (105 Oak Hill Road in Concord, phone: 224-0820)

Red Roof Maples (7064 Pleasant St. Extension in Loudon, email: russhd1997@comcast.net)

Sunnyside Maples, Inc. (1089 Route 106 in Loudon, phone: 783-9961)

Windswept Maples (845 Loudon Ridge Road in Loudon, phone: 267-8492)

Ridgeland Farm (736 Loudon Ridge Road in Loudon, phone: 520-4337)

Pearl & Sons Farm (409 Loudon Ridge Road in Loudon, phone: 435-6587)

Maple Ridge Sugar House (268 Loudon Ridge Road in Loudon, phone: 470-7574)

Tamarack Farm (115 Asby Road in Canterbury, phone: 783-9226)

Matras Family Farm (821 Catamount Road in Pittsfield, phone: 435-8214)

Journey’s End Maple Farm (295 Loudon Road in Pittsfield, phone: 435-5127)

Treats Sugarhouse (3 Hop Kiln Road in Bow, phone: 774-2160)

Kaisons Sugar House (75 Forest Road in Weare, phone: 660-6019)

Grant Family Pond View Maples (224 Mount Dearborn Road in Weare, phone: 396-2800)

Lockhaven Farm Sugarhouse (168 Davison Road in Henniker, phone: 860-3836)

Crow Valley Farm (1038 Hopkinton Road in Hopkinton, phone: 224-7520)

Courser Farm (319 Schoodac Road in Warner)

Rogers Maple Syrup (130 Couchtown Road in Warner, phone: 456-3752)

Kearsarge Gore Farm (173 Gore Road in Warner, phone: 456-2319)

Kimball’s Sugar House (390 White Plains Road in Webster, phone: 848-1866)

Salisbury Sugarworks (223 North Road in Franklin, phone: 934-7251)

For more information about the activities offered and times sugar houses are open, visit nhmapleproducers.com.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter