Sugaring lineage bears fruit for Boydens at International Maple Conference

  • Boyden Brothers Maple co-owners Howard and Jeanne Boyden hold the awards they received at the International Maple Conference, which was held in La Crosse, Wisconsin over the weekend. COURTESY PHOTO/MASSACHUSETTS MAPLE PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION

  • Howard Boyden showcases his evaporator, where syrup is produced in his Conway sugarhouse in February. Boyden Brothers Maple recently took home four awards from the 2022 International Maple Conference. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Jeanne Boyden of Boyden Brothers Maple in Conway sells some maple syrup to Conway resident Deb Hoyle in March 2021. The business recently took home several awards at the 2022 International Maple Conference. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Howard Boyden of Boyden Brothers Maple, pictured next to his evaporator in Conway in March 2021. Boyden Brothers Maple recently took home several awards at the 2022 International Maple Conference. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2022 7:44:19 PM
Modified: 11/1/2022 7:44:00 PM

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Some of the best maple products in the whole world are being made right here in Franklin County — at least, if the judges at the International Maple Conference have anything to say about it.

Over the weekend in Wisconsin, Conway residents and Boyden Brothers Maple co-owners Howard and Jeanne Boyden took home several awards at the 2022 International Maple Conference, an event that brings producers and industry leaders from around the maple world together annually.

Howard and Jeanne Boyden were in La Crosse attending the first in-person conference since 2019. They were a little surprised when they took first place in the golden/delicate syrup and maple candy categories, as well as second place in the maple cream and maple sugar categories.

“That’s pretty rare that you place in all categories. … That was kind of exciting for us,” Howard Boyden said by phone on Monday, adding that they won a few of these awards back in 2019 and weren’t expecting to be recognized again. “We went into this expecting nothing, like, ‘OK, we’ve seen our five minutes of fame,’ and then jeez, they started calling our names.”

Massachusetts Maple Producers Association Coordinator Winton Pitcoff said the Boydens have always been successful at the conference, despite ever-changing circumstances such as unpredictable sugaring seasons or different judges at each competition.

“They have won consistently over many years at the international conference,” Pitcoff said. “The fact they consistently win, despite all those variables, suggests or proves that there’s something special about the way they make their confections.”

Boyden, who is also the president of the North American Maple Syrup Council, which helps put on the conference, said there is no secret ingredient or technique for their products, just a whole lot of practice throughout their family history. Boyden said he is a third-generation sugarer on his father’s side, and his mother’s ancestors have been tapping trees for hundreds of years.

“I really think your smaller producers can give a little more attention to detail,” Boyden said. “I’ll be 64 years old next week and I can’t remember not doing it. ... I pretty much can’t help myself. I have maple syrup running through my veins.”

The physical location of maple trees also influences flavor, he said.

“If you taste syrup from Wisconsin and Nova Scotia, it’s great, but there is a huge difference,” Boyden explained. “I think climate and terrain definitely does play into it to a certain degree.”

To go along with the Boydens’ recognition, Mountain Maple Farm in Princeton won Best in Show, which Pitcoff said showed the true dedication and ability of Massachusetts maple sugarers.

“It shows how much our producers care about the products they’re making,” Pitcoff said. “Massachusetts maple producers sell more directly to consumers, they develop relationships with their consumers … and that’s demonstrated.”

With a vast majority of his 1,000 gallons of maple syrup sold locally each year, Boyden said awards like this are a boost for business.

“It’s really cool. It gives us a little decoration for the sugarhouse and it really does help with the marketing, too,” he said. “It’s really important for us who directly market to have this recognition.”

While serving as an awards ceremony, the International Maple Conference also provides an opportunity for industry veterans to come together and talk about producing maple syrup. Next year, the conference will be held in Sturbridge, providing an opportunity for maple producers to learn from Massachusetts sugarers.

“Every year the conference moves around. ... You see how people do it there and you never come home without learning something for sure,” Boyden commented. “It’s a great source of information and it’s a really cool October vacation.”

Boyden Brothers Maple is located at 642 South Deerfield Road (Route 116) in Conway. It is open during maple season and on weekends in December. The timing of sugaring season, Boyden said, varies depending on the year, but lately it’s been starting in February and ending once the weather warms up near the end of March.

“When spring springs, you’re done,” he said. “You want to be ready to rock ’n’ roll.”

Pitcoff added that maple products are wonderful holiday gifts because of their versatility as a syrup and as cooking ingredients.

“Local maple syrup is a great gift,” Pitcoff said. “Hopefully people will stop by their local sugarhouse.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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