March in Northeast Ohio is a very special time of year. It's always a busy month. Ohio Wrestling State Championships, the Cleveland International Film Fest, St. Patrick's Day, college basketball's March Madness, fish fries, the Auto Show, the IX Indoor Amusement Park and sometimes even Easter are all fun things that take place. This year there is even the Cleveland Magazine Nothing But Net Blogger Brackets competition going on. For me it's even more busy and special because it's the month of my Mom and Step-Dads' birthdays.
Every year we get together for a much anticipated special treat to celebrate their birthdays - pancake breakfast. This is not your typical morning meal. We head out to Geauga County for a traditional feast that includes not only all-you-can-eat pancakes, but also the locally produced delicacy real maple syrup. This is not the fake stuff but 100% pure nectar from the sugar maple trees. There is nothing quite like it.
|The Krzys Brothers - Mom's neighbors make syrup|
|This is what they use to turn sap into syrup|
Chardon is known as the Maple Syrup Capital of Ohio but many other towns and organizations join in on the fun. All the breakfasts have one thing in common: maple syrup topped pancakes. So just pick one and get some friends or family together for a Must Do meal in March.
1. Burton "Pancake Town USA": 3 locations (museum, fire station and high school) - click HERE for details including hours. You can visit the Burton Log Cabin year round but in the spring you can see them make maple syrup.
2. Chardon: Fraternal Order of Eagles has pancakes, eggs, sausage or bacon and homefries (9:00 - 12:30)
3. Kirtland: Holden Arboretum features Spring Hikes and Pancakes on March 17th and 18th only. $15 (or $10 for members) gets you a guided hike and a hearty breakfast of buttermilk or multigrain pancakes, sweet maple or berry syrups, sausages links or veggie sausage, home fried redskin potatoes, cut fresh fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee. * Gluten-free pancakes available. You must call (440.946.4400, ext. 224) for reservations for gluten-free pancakes.*
Lake Farm Park offers an annual Maple Sugar Weekend - this year it was March 10th and 11th so you'll have to keep that one in mind for next year.
4. Middlefield: Creekside Maple offers a unique opportunity to eat at an Amish house next to a working sugar shack. Call ahead for reservations (440) 632-9241.
5. Parkman: Parkman Community House is a super cute location for your pancake feast. This is the one that my family goes to every year. The Community House was built in 1863 as a cheese factory. It's currently the social hub of this tiny town.
The most interesting feature of this location is the serpentine table. One long table winds through the dining area for a friendly communal dining experience.
They use real dishes and flatware and volunteers serve up all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes AND sausage from nearby Charlanne Farms, hot coffee, tea or cocoa and milk. It's $7.50 per person. (9:00 - 2:00) While you wait in line you can browse and shop for handmade goods, Girl Scout cookies, Easter chocolate and more. They sell a variety of sizes of local maple syrup and the excellent bulk sausage is frozen and available for $2.50 per pound.
Many other communities all throughout NE Ohio offer their versions of the pancake breakfast as well. In the south there's one that comes highly recommended by Debbi Snook in Chatham (Medina County.)
6. The Sugar Bush pancake breakfast is from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Chatham VFW Post 6892 at 6299 Avon Lake Road. It's $6.50 for adults and $3.50 for children and $6 for seniors over 60. Breakfast consists of all-you-can-eat pancakes, two sausage links and all you can drink coffee, tea and milk. Additional items for sale include 100 percent maple syrup, homemade candy, Amish cheeses and other homemade goods.
7. In Lake County you can head to Willoughby Hills. They host their annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday in March at the Willoughby Hills Community Center, 35400 Chardon Road, Willoughby Hills. Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $3.50 for children ages 6 through 12.
8. Goodell Family Farm in Portage County is another great place for pancakes. The long time Shalersville residents host their annual breakfasts at the Town Hall located on Route 44 at Route 303 just off the Ohio Turnpike. Pancakes and sausage will cost you $7.50 and they serve from 8:30 - 2:00.
9. In nearby Hiram, you can eat yourself silly on pancakes while benefiting the local Fire Department. Served at Hiram College from 8:00 - 1:00, the adult meal is $7.00. They feature buckwheat and blueberry pancakes in addition to the traditional buttermilk.
10. If you can't make it in March or you just can't get enough of the pancakes, Chardon also hosts the Geauga County Maple Festival every year in April at their historic town square.
With all these tasty options, it's easy to start a family tradition or just take a ride out to the country to enjoy one of our area's most delicious local specialties. Take a jug of syrup home with you so you can enjoy the sweet taste all year long. It's an obvious choice for breakfast but can be used to sweeten nuts, meats, granola and more. Try some of these recipes from Maple Valley Sugarbush & Farm.