Gather up your mittens, hats, coats, boots, family and friends, because according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the forecast for our area for Feb. 4, calls for lake snows and cold temps - perfect weather for the annual Snowflake Festival at the Jamestown Audubon from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Now I must admit, I've never been to the Snowflake Festival but after being a part of special events like Enchanted Forest, the Monarch Butterfly Festival, Art in the Woods and others, I expect to be part of another great family-friendly event.
Highlighting the festival this year is returning speaker Paul Fehringer, founder of Wild Spirit Education located in Delevan. He will present two popular educational programs: Birds of Prey and Owl Ecology. His educational programs cover avian adaptations, bird identification, anatomy, predator/prey relationships, migration and ornithology and also include live representation of raptors and non-releasable birds of prey. Fehringer has a degree in Environmental Studies and teaches part-time in high school and middle school. He is also a seasonal naturalist/interpreter at Letchworth State Park and for eight years he served as a senior naturalist for the Buffalo Audubon Society.
If you are looking for more live animals, you cannot pass up Amtilia Outreach run by Chris Duckett and Zac Caldwell. They bring their rescued reptiles and amphibians to the Audubon as well as hissing cockroaches and a tarantula - and yes, you can touch them. Many children spending their summers at the Audubon have participated in a lively educational experience with this group and we encourage everyone to stop by and visit Amtilia Outreach. You will also want to check out sledding demonstrations with Tails of the Tundra. These dogs are beautiful and work hard. Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue is a nonprofit volunteer organization, formed to help Siberian Huskies and Siberian Husky mixes that have been abused, neglected, abandoned or surrendered by their owners. Their goals are to place these dogs in loving homes and to educate people about the characteristics of this wonderful, yet often misunderstood, breed.
Sled dog demonstrations are part of the annual Snowflake Festival at the Jamestown Audubon. This year’s event will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Photo by Suzette Paduano
If you prefer to spend most of your time outside at the event there will be free snowshoe demonstrations throughout day with instructors from Evergreen Outfitters. Audubon will also have skis on hand if you would like to explore more than five miles of snow covered trails. Go ahead and get a workout on your snowshoes and skis and then stop by and visit the Fluvanna Boy Scouts Troop No. 169 who will offer outdoor cooking demonstrations with lots of food samples to be handed out. Anyone who has ever camped or backpacked outside knows there is something extra special about the taste of food cooked outdoors after a long day of hiking.
Another longtime favorite activity at the event is bluebird house building which offers a hands-on opportunity to work side by side with Audubon volunteers as they help you put together your very own Bluebird house. They have been working hard to prepare these kits and have 300 houses waiting for you to put them together. If building things is to your liking, make sure to stop by the well attended activity in children's crafts hosted by Audubon volunteers leaders Olivia Sechriest and Joyce Weber. Craft stations will be set up in the picturesque and scenic Audubon Sky Room on the third floor. If you liked what they did for the Monarch Festival, you'll like they do for the Snowflake Festival.
Once you are warmed up inside and want to venture outside again consider saying hello to Liberty, our resident non-releasable Bald Eagle. You can get a behind-the-scenes tour of what our volunteers do every day to take care of her. Linda O'Brien, one of our longtime dedicated eagle care volunteers, will take you on a tour and happily answer your questions. Perhaps you'll even see another bald eagle flying in the sky as you take a walk with an Audubon naturalist on the trails at the Audubon. This is a new feature of the Snowflake Festival, and you will not want to miss your chance to meet our naturalists in person.
If you prefer to stay warm inside, there will be several returning vendors and exhibitors eager to meet you and answer your questions. The Warren County Master Gardeners will offer suet logs for purchase and answer your questions about gardening and their organization. Perhaps you would like to take a warm furry cat home with you. The Chautauqua County Humane Society offers educational materials and information on their programs and will have cats available for adoption. Or maybe you are a dog lover and want to make sure your dog remains home safe and sound. Invisible Fence Brand of Erie, Pa., has professionally trained staff fully focused on protecting your pet with Invisible Fence systems. If you are looking to do some energy efficient remodeling at home, consider stopping by Braymiller Builders out of Hamburg, N.Y. They will display their windows, doors, and tub liner systems. Maybe you are feeling a bit nostalgic. Carol Spencer will demonstrate spinning with a wheel and drop spindle using yarn, fiber, wool, and more. Visit a similar vendor in Dun Roving Farm & Alpaca Store. They will sell Alpaca products including socks, hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves and show you where they came from as you view live Suri Alpacas. If you are looking for healthy skin care products discounted 50 percent, stop by BeautiControl. This will be a last chance offer. Make sure to stop by The Southern Tier Astronomical Recreation Society (STARS). This group emphasizes observational astronomy, public education and spreading the enjoyment of the starry skies. They run free public observing nights at easy to get to locations such as Luensman Overlook park in northern Chautauqua county and Long Point State Park near Bemus Point.
Also consider visiting with members of the Jamestown Audubon Society Photography Club. They will be on hand to answer your photography questions and will have their work on display. Their images of flowers may make you think of gardening. Even though the ground will be covered with snow, there will be some of you eagerly waiting for spring. Gardening questions and more will be answered by members of the Chautauqua County Master Gardeners.
If you are inspired by local environmental organizations and missions, check out the JCC Earth Awareness Club whose club activities will be on display along with information on eco-friendly products and practices as well as information regarding local and global environmental issues. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will also be on hand with an educational display about the conservancy and their local trails. Also, Teddy Heads from Williamsville, a supporter of several animal and wildlife related charities, will bring smiles to your face as well as laughter and fun with their durable and comfortable animal themed hats in lots of styles and colors.
Look for other surprises both inside and out, and plan to spend the whole day at the Audubon with your family and friends. We'll even cook for you. Audubon volunteers will prepare fresh, hot homemade meat lovers' chili and vegetarian chili - a tradition at this event. There will also be kielbasa and Baress hotdogs cooked on the grill with all your favorite toppings as well as fudge brownies, hot chocolate, fresh fruit and other baked goods. For those with a sweet tooth you won't want to pass up Franklins Honey & Apples - they offer delicious kettle corn, cotton candy, honey, apple chips, honeystix, and they even sell crocheted towels.
Sponsors who support our mission and supported this event include United Refining Company in Warren, WNY Energy $mart Communities, Herbs R4U, Lena's Pizza, Gary's Carstar, Carroll Rod & Gun Club, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Randy Ordines, James M. Smith-CLU, Phil-N-Cindy's, Dun Roving Farm and Alpaca Store, Franklin's Honey & Apples, and Teddy Heads.
Admission for the event is $5 for ages 12 and up and free for children under 12. Proceeds support and benefit the Jamestown Audubon's mission to connect people to nature and promote environmentally responsible practices through education at our Center, Sanctuary, and in the community.
Visit Audubon at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The Center is currently operating on its winter hours and is open Monday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The trails and Liberty viewing area are available from dawn to dusk every day free of charge. For information about upcoming events, visit jamestownaudubon.org or call 569-2345.
Lynn Crossfield is special events and volunteer coordinator at Audubon.