Snowy Celebration

Area residents looking for some festive fun in the outdoors need look no further than Audubon’s annual Snowflake Festival.

The festival, scheduled for Saturday, begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. It will feature opportunities to explore the outdoors, enjoy kid-friendly activities and learn about various Earth-friendly practices.

According to Ruth Lundin, president of the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary, the idea behind the festival is to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy nature during the wintry season. Lundin said that the festival has been running longer than she can remember, and she started working for Audubon in 1999, so she suspects it has been running for more than 20 years.

“Families who have younger kids are really looking for an opportunity to do things outside with the kids that they aren’t so comfortable doing themselves,” said Lundin. “We’re looking forward to having some snow this year because last year, although it was a lot of fun, was a no-flake festival. But, we want people to know that no matter what the weather, we’re here, and we have things to do.”

Many of the events during the festival will be held outdoors such as: Dennis Wright and his team of horses will be available for sleigh rides for $5 per person; kicksled demonstrations with Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue; naturalist led hiking tours; snowshoe demonstrations by Evergreen Outfitters; Dun Roving Farms will bring Alpacas for visitors to meet; Bruce Robinson will host a program entitled “Gardening For Wildlife” that will show visitors how to make their backyard into a haven for wildlife; and the Fluvanna Boy Scouts Troop 169 will host outdoor cooking demonstrations that include free samples. In addition to the scheduled events, visitors can bring sleds, snowshoes or cross-country skiis to hit the hills and trails.

There will also be several opportunities to interact with wild birds of prey. Liberty, Audubon’s resident bald eagle, will be available for viewing in her habitat and behind the scenes tours will be held to show visitors how the center cares for the eagle. Plus, Paul Fehringer, wildlife rehabilitator and founder of Wild Spirit Education, will bring hawks and owls to host several birds of prey presentations.

The festival is a family-friendly event that will include activities for children to enjoy such as bluebird house building, crafts and painting. The birdhouse building will be located in the maintenance building and will cost $5. The crafts will be held in the Sky Room, which has a scenic view of the Audubon grounds.

“The kids crafts are one of the favorite things,” said Lundin. “We have a couple of women, Olivia Sechriest and Joyce Weber, who think of marvelously ingenious kids crafts.”

Also located indoors will be exhibitors and vendors, which will offer demonstrations, informational exhibits and will have items for purchase. So far more than 20 exhibitors have been confirmed. Jamestown Community College Earth Awareness Club will provide information on ecofriendly products and practices as well as local and global environmental issues. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservatory will teach visitors about the local watershed and host activities. Warren and Chautauqua County Master Gardenders will offer information on how to design, plant and prepare a garden as well as offer various activities. The Chautauqua County Humane Society and New Leash on Life will bring friendly animals who need loving homes. For a full listing of events, exhibitors and vendors visit snowflakefestival.wordpress.com.

“There is a lot of new this year,” said Lundin. “We tried to select organizations and businesses that have a connection and a reason to be at the Snowflake Festival.”

Food will be provided by Audubon’s Kitchen and hot bar, which will feature chili for both meat eaters and vegetarians, hot dogs, fudge brownies, coffee from Stedman Corners, hot chocolate with marshmallows and other refreshments. Franklin’s Honey and Apples will also serve kettle corn, cotton candy, honey, apple chips and more.

The Snowflake Festival is one of Audubon’s annual fundraisers, but it is also a friend-raiser to get people to the ground so that they know what the Jamestown Audubon has to offer, said Lundin.

“We want you to be a friend and we want you to come back because we want people to know that this is a resource,” said Lundin.

Sarah Hatfield, naturalist and chair for this year’s festival, said she is looking forward to giving area residents an opportunity to enjoy the Audubon grounds.

“There are going to be more people here than ever before and it’s bigger than it’s ever been,” said Hatfield. “What Audubon does is connect people with nature. Winter is a season that people tend to either love or hate, but you can come down and experience nature in positive ways through events held outdoors and indoors with good food and camaraderie. It’s a great way to connect people with the outdoors and show them that even if you hate winter there are ways to still enjoy it. If you love winter, it’s a great way to get out and enjoy it too.”

Admission to the festival is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 3 to 12 and children under 2 are free. The Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary is open year round, with seasonal hours of operation occurring from November to February. The 600 acre sanctuary and its 5 miles of trails are open to the public. The center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in Jamestown.

For more information call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.