Thomas Bryant, 8, of Newfield, puts the lid on a sap bucket after Gov. Paul LePage drilled the hole for the tap on a maple tree at Blaine House in Augusta on Tuesday. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA (AP) — Spring flowers might not be blooming in Maine, but the spring sap is flowing.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage tapped a tree outside the governor’s mansion on Tuesday to mark the coming of Maple Syrup Sunday. Mainers celebrate maple syrup on the fourth Sunday of March by visiting sugarhouses all over the state.

LePage says the state’s maple industry is “growing in output and importance.” The state produced more than 700,000 gallons of maple syrup last year, up 5 percent from the previous year. The number of taps also went up 2 percent and gallons per tap were up 3 percent. The state has nearly 2 million taps.

Maple Syrup Sunday has become a weekend-long affair, as many sugarhouses that open to the public do so on both Saturday and Sunday.

Gov. Paul LePage, center, starts to drill into a maple tree at the Blaine House in Augusta on Tuesday. Julia Bryant, left, 8, and her brother John Bryant, right, 10, both of Newfield, stand by to help with the annual Maine Maple Sunday promotional tree tapping at the governor’s mansion across the street from the Maine State House. The kids, whose family runs Hilltop Boilers in Newfield, have helped at the event for several years. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

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