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On January 14, 2023 at the WMSPA Winter Institute and Maple Vendor Trade Show in Marshfield WI Jim and Sara Adamski of Adamski Sugar Bush, Antigo, WI were awarded the 2022 producers of the year. The award went to two maple syrup producers who definitely go above and beyond whenever asked to do anything for the Wisconsin Maple Producers Association, in any job they do or volunteer to do, and especially for Jim’s parents and family. Jim Adamski has been a past President of the Association, a Delegate to the North American Maple Syrup Counsel, has been on the Board of Directors for many years. Jim and Sara have worked at the Wisconsin State Fair selling maple products for the Association. Jim helped organize the North American Maple Syrup Annual Convention in La Crosse and has put on many workshops for the Winter Institutes. He has sharded his great knowledge of the Maple Industry with other state association also putting on workshops for the Minnesota Maple Association where he has been invited back as a guest speaker several times. Jim and Sara are fourth generation maple producers in the Adamski family. Jim with the help of his grandpa and Dad, tapped 100 trees in his grandpa’s woods in 1988, at the age of 15, as a 4-H project and FFA project. That year Jim sold Reynolds Sugar Bush 110 pounds of syrup. After his expenses, his profit that year was $2.80. Jim thought this could be a money-making business. Jim’s FFA Teacher nominated him for the State FFA degree. In 1989, he worked for Reynolds Sugar Bush, collecting sap. That same year with his FFA teacher, Principal from his High School, and parents, Vicky and Gary, traveled to Kansas City for the National FFA Conference where he received the American FFA degree. History is repeating itself for in the Adamski family. Jim and Sara’s son, Jacob at the age of 5 started tapping the maple trees in his grandpa’s back yard. Sara Adamski being a 4-H Leader encouraged Jacob to join 4-H at the age of 5. Being the 5th generation of syrup producers, Jacob has exhibited his maple syrup at the county fair for the past 10 years and has always received blue ribbons.
Thirty-five years later, the Adamski ‘s along with their son, Jacob tap approximately 10,000 trees and takes in sap from another 4,000 taps. In 2016, Adamski Sugar Bush became a Certified Organic Producer of Maple Syrup.
On January 14, 2023 at the WMSPA Winter Institute and Maple Vendor Trade Show in Marshfield, WI; Gary and Vicki Adamski of Adamski Sugar Bush, Antigo, WI were awarded the 2023 Lifetime member award. The Gary and Vicky Adamski’s maple experience started when they were very young, just out of high school. Tapping trees on the family farm with relatives and boiling the syrup on a small flat pan out in the yard. The sugaring at that time was done every couple of years whenever the family farm needed maple syrup.
In 1984, the Adamski’s decided to try the craft on an annual basis. The same flat pan that was used by Vicky’s father and grandfather was placed back in service. Gary and Vicky tapped 25 trees in Vicky’s father’s woods and started to make maple syrup. The excess sap that could not be boiled was hauled to Reynolds Sugarbush in milk cans and the first balk syrup was sold to Reynolds as well.
In the early years, Adamski’s operation was very primitive with most of the boiling done outside on the small flat pan that was older than both their ages combined. Every year the taps were set increased and the flat pan evaporator was moved into a storage shed in the yard. This was an amazing upgrade with electricity and a black and white TV.
As the small operation continued to grow a larger flat pan evaporator was built and placed into service complete with a steam hood, which made boiling on the snowy March evenings much more enjoyable. About this time the number of trees were producing far more sap than Gary and Vicky had milk cans for storage so they purchased a new 30-gallon garbage can to store some additional sap. The can was filed one late evening and when they arrived home from work the next day to their surprise the can was empty. The plastic was so thin all the sap seeped out the can.
By this time, Gary and Vicky had sugaring in their blood and located a wood lot for a sale a few miles from their house and the first wood lot were purchased in 1991. The next year the tap count doubled and once again another evaporator was placed into service and increased the boiling capacity by 52%.
In 1992, Gary and Vicky son, Jim, finished tech school and decided to stay in the area. In 1994, the Adamski’s upgraded to a 4x14 forced draft wood evaporator. With this additional capacity it was time once again to add taps. By this time the Adamski’s operation was up to 6500 taps on bags and buckets. The evaporator was run around the clock for a few seasons to keep up with the taps. The first of 7 reverse osmosis machines were purchased in the spring of 1995 reducing the boiling time and the mountain of firewood being used. 1995 was the first year for tubing. The small tubing system were installed in the Adamski’s woods and also in the rented woodlot in Aniwa.
In the Spring of 2000, Gary and Vicky hosted the WMSPA First tree Tapping in the first woods they had purchased. As the operation continues to grow the bags and buckets were replaced by high vacuum tubbing. The wood fired evaporator has been replaced with a natural gas fired evaporator. As more wood lots were purchased the tap count had grown to 10,000 taps.
In 2007, Adamski’s Sugar Bush received the producer of the year award from the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producer’s Association. In 2016, the sugarbush was certified organic and two other producers that sold sap to Gary and Vicky were also certified organic. The current sugarhouse is in the same place it was in 1984 it is just a little bigger. Today, Adamski’s process sap from 14,000 taps.
Elton Hoff “Mable’s Maple”
Elton got his start making syrup in a cast iron kettle growing up in Rural Wisconsin. He bought his farm in 1960 and began making maple syrup with his brother-in-law and another neighboring family. They started cooking on flat pans. Later, when the inspector gave his blessing to turn the chicken coop into a syrup house, they bought a 4x14 evaporator. Maynard Hoff joined the team just as others were getting ready to be done. Elton was Maynard’s teacher and mentor for many years and eventually around 1976 they formed a partnership.
Elton has been a very active member of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association, serving as a director for many years. Elton is always willing to help and lend good advice, he was a town board member for several years and an active member and officer in his church.
The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producer’s Association (WMSPA) named the 2021 Producer of the Year to Maynard and Connie Hoff from Maple Creek Sugar Bush from Barron, WI at the WMSPA Winter Institute held recently. Lifelong members of the WMSPA, the honorees are actively involved with the organization with Maynard serving as a District 6 representative. They also hosted the 2018 WMSPA First Tree Tapping. The pair love to share the benefits of maple with the community hosting 4-H clubs, church groups, and schools nearby at their sugar bush. The family business has grown to cooking and producing nearly 9,000 taps worth of maple syrup and they are looking forward to expanding in the coming years. Their family contributed to the 300,000 gallons statewide produced by Wisconsin maple syrup producers in 2020. Maynard’s love for maple syrup began in 1972 and branched out in 2010 to begin Maple Creek Sugarbush in the hills of Dority Creek. In 2010, Maynard and Connie, along with their children started Maple Creek Sugar Bush (MCSB). A log cabin was built, with the help of their children, next to a shed that serves as the evaporating room. It serves as a cozy space for open houses, sales and a gathering place for friends and family. The first year, they cooked off of about 4500 taps. Over the following years, bags were replaced with tubing and many improvements and upgrades have been made in and around the sugar bush, such as larger RO’s and more sap storage. In 2021, MCSB cooked off of over 9000 taps and are looking to increase production even more over the next few years. The business has expanded to producing beyond maple syrup making cream, candy, cotton candy, and are always looking for ways to expand the maple pallet to reach more consumers. Although, they wouldn’t have been to the point they are at today without their family. At the WMSPA Winter Institute held Jan. 14-15, nearly twenty family members were present for their recognition.
Joe and Barbara Polak, Merrill, Wisconsin Joe Polak was born in 1952 into a northern Wisconsin family that has always been very involved in outdoor activities. He has made maple syrup his entire life and operates Maple Hollow, a maple syrup and equipment sales business with his wife Barbara. His father, John, was a farmer and logger. His mother, Lena, was a cook in a logging camp and helped on the farm. Joe is the youngest of four children. His two older brothers both have maple operations of their own and his sister owns and operates a gift shop in southern Wisconsin which sells Maple Hollow products. Polak Bros Sawmill started Merrill, WI in 1889. At that time Joe’s grandfather owned and operated a sawmill, cider press and maple syrup operation thus trying to keep the workers on the payroll and employed year–round. The mill passed to his father, John and two uncles and finally closed in 1971. The maple syrup operation passed to his father at that time. Joe worked for his dad and purchased the business from his father in 1985 and added maple equipment sales at that time. The name changed from Polak Bros Maple Syrup to Maple Hollow. Maple Hollow continues to sell pure maple products and maple making equipment. Joe attended Heller School, a 1 room school until 4th grade, Midway Elementary for 5th and 6th grade, and Merrill Junior High for 7th thru 9th grades. He graduated from Merrill Senior High School in 1970 where he was a member of the Marching Jays Marching Band. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1975 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education and taught for 1 year before his father’s illness brought him home to help with the maple syrup business. Joe’s dad was the principal salesman and deliveryman until his retirement. A new sales room and canning facility was built in 1998 right next to the old location. New websites and online stores were started at that time. Barbara was born and raised in Sonoma, California. She received her elementary teachers degree from the University of California – Sonoma State College and taught 3rd grade for 10 years before moving to Wisconsin in 1981. After moving to Wisconsin she became a waitress and hostess at local supper clubs and worked with Joe at Maple Hollow. She continues to work at Maple Hollow and is the treasurer for the local cemetery association. Joe has also continued to be involved in community activities. He is a member of Luther Memorial Lutheran Church and has held positions as President, Vice President and Elder and is sexton for the local Cemetery Association. He was chairman of the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business committee for many years. He received the Interdependance Award from the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce in 1991. He is a member of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association and has been President, Vice President, Director and Editor of the newsletter, the Wisconsin Maple News. He currently is a member of the Marketing Committee. He has held the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the North American Maple Syrup Council since 2003. His educational background has been a great help promoting Pure Maple Syrup and giving the many educational seminars and classes on making maple syrup at county and state association meetings. In 1996 Joe and Barbara received the Master Agriculturist Award from the Wisconsin Agriculturist Organization and in 1999 they were awarded producer of the Year by the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. In 2020 Joe was inducted into the International Maple Museum Center Hall of Fame in Croghan, New York. He has been a member of Merrill Toastmasters and is currently a member of the Town of Schley Zoning committee. For Joe being outdoors is still preferable to being at a desk. Using his chainsaw and splitting maul is his recreation and therapy.
Allen and Miriam Durkey of Voelz’s Sugarbush, Tilleda, WI were honored on May 8, 2021, with the WMSPA 2020 Producer of the year award. Miriam’s father, Eugene started the family operation in 1934 with an open pan in the woods. In 1961, It was time to move from an open pan to buy an evaporator and build a building to house it. The family business brought heart, love, and sweetness together. It also brought Allen and Miriam together. Allen’s family was also making maple syrup. Between 4-H and their common interest of syruping the two met and eventually were married on October 8, 1983. Currently, the family taps 3000 taps on their family land with sap bags. Each year they spend weekends before the season putting 3000 bags and holders together. They share the love of maple syrup with their 2 children, Heather and Holly, 2 grandchildren Roselyn and Kayson. Miriam’s brothers both help, Dale helps drive the tractor through the woods, and David helps with the cooking on the evaporator. Mom Marion is the head chief or boss of everything. Allen and Miriam have been members of WMSPA for many years. Allen currently serves as a director in District 1 and Miriam is the current WMSPA treasurer. They have also helped out in the Fall Tour Planning Committee, Promotion Committee, State Fair, and various WMSPA events.
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