Guest Author: Mary O’Brien, Madison, WI
I call them heart pinches…those little grabs of nostalgia that can catch you off guard and make you a bit sad. They happen when I see images of the cranes and planes that have touched our lives for nearly two decades, and I got one last Wednesday when Joe and Heather joined the crane festival committee meeting in Princeton. In that brief moment when they walked through the door I desperately wanted the old days back. But, as sleeves were rolled up and ideas shared on ways to blend the best of the old and new, it became clear that this will be one of the best Whooping crane festivals ever.
It will be a heartwarming craniac reunion as we celebrate Operation Migration’s inspiring 15-year legacy that brought us together and that has made Princeton a place where Whooping cranes summer. It will also be an opportunity to attract broader attendance by showcasing speakers on other conservation topics, even more student participation and greater outreach to the birding community. There will be much more detail as plans unfold, but in the meantime here are some teasers to make you smile, mark your calendar and plan your trip to the 2016 Whooping crane festival (September 8-12).
- Throughout the entire event, there will be opportunities to see our beloved wild Whoopers and perhaps get a peek at the 2016 parent reared chicks that OM will be working with.
- On Thursday evening there will be a casual welcome gathering possibly combined with a fun group fundraiser activity.
- Friday will feature a day trip to the International Crane Foundation and a casual evening dinner gathering with a brief presentation by Joe Duff, some silent auction items and presentation of OM’s volunteer of the year award.
- Saturday will be all action all the time, starting with the pancake breakfast, awesome speakers throughout the day, vendors, silent auction, great food including a pig roast, and lots of kid’s activities. And oh by the way, there will be a colossal origami Whooping crane on display constructed by Princeton High School students under the tutelage of our own expert crane maker Mako Pellerin.
- On Saturday night the now infamous Whooping crane trivia contest will be held while everyone reminisces over pizza and beer.
- On Sunday morning you can join birder and tume Tom Schultz and Joe Duff for a walk in the White River Marsh. Later you can once again paddle down the Fox River in a replica French fur trade canoe, or take a drive and visit other local conservation areas such as the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.
So yes dear Virginia, there is a Whooping crane festival and it will be one to remember for a very long time.