Maplewood State Park celebrates Sugar Shack grand opening

A special event at 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, will celebrate the grand opening of the Friends of Maplewood Sugar Shack at Maplewood State Park, located 7 miles east of Pelican Rapids in northwestern Minnesota. 

The Sugar Shack houses a food-grade stainless steel unit that includes a wood-fired evaporator used to boil down sap from maple trees. It replaces a temporary facility housed in a parking lot at the park where DNR staff and volunteers would conduct maple syrup-making interpretive programs for hundreds of students and other visitors.

“Thanks to the hard work and support from the Friends of Maplewood, we now have an incredible indoor facility to conduct our interpretive maple syrup-making programs,” said Don Del Greco, Maplewood State Park manager. “Through this partnership, the interpretive stories of maple syrup-making will be enhanced and provide future generations with the opportunity to learn about this unique connection to nature.”

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will include an official gifting of the key to the building, there will be tours of the Sugar Shack and demonstrations of the maple syrup-making equipment inside.

The Friends of Maplewood secured 100 percent of the funds for the construction of the building from fundraising events, private donations and grants. The building has been gifted to Maplewood State Park, which provided the building’s design, site, landscaping and parking.


  • Welcome and introductions – Don Del Greco, Maplewood State Park manager.
  • Sugar Shack history – John Nordstrom, president, Friends of Maplewood.
  • Recognition of donors – Stu Peterson, treasurer and Sugar Shack project coordinator.
  • Official gifting of the Sugar Shack Key, Denise Laymon, president elect, Friends of Maplewood.
  • DNR speakers – Gary Hoeft, northwest region Parks and Trails manager; Melody Webb, northwest region Parks and Trails assistant manager; Steve Hennessey, Parks and Trails acquisition and development coordinator.
  • Friends of Maplewood Maple Syrup commitment –John Nordstrom.
  • Closing and thank you – Jeff Fjestad, Maplewood State Park assistant manager.
  • Sugar Shack tour and demonstration of the evaporator equipment.
  • Cake and refreshments.

For more information on maple syrup-making events at Minnesota state parks, visit

For more information on Maplewood State Park, visit