If you've never tried making your own maple syrup, you must attend Saint John's University's annual Maple Syrup Festival which kicks off this weekend in Collegville.

St. John’s University has been making maple syrup and spreading the sweet taste of springtime since the 1940s.

Each year around the end of March hundreds of volunteers get together for the Maple Syrup Festival and collect sap from maple trees. It’s a university tradition that started during World War Two in a time of sugar rationing.

Volunteers use the same process they have since the tradition began. A single hole is drilled into nearly 1,800 maple trees. Buckets and bags are attached to the trees to collect sap as it drains out. When the sap pools into the buckets it’s taken to the Sugar Shack and the cooking process begins.

Hundreds of local elementary students take field trips out to the arboretum each year for an education on the process of collecting sap and cooking maple syrup. They are taken to the Sugar Shack and shown the difference between maple syrup and corn syrup. At the end of the field trip the students are given a sample of the sweet treat.

It’s a local delicacy because you won’t find it on store shelves. The university doesn't sell it. They give it as gifts to very special guests. If you want to sample the syrup you’ll have to attend the festival. It’s served hot to the volunteers on ice cream.

The festival kicks off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 for Outdoor University members and $10.00 for non-members.

Get the '98.1 Insider' Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest Minnesota & music news in your inbox a couple times a week. If we're not awesome, drop us like a hot potato.