Program and Speakers Set

The dates and speakers are set for the 2017 Othello Sandhill Crane Festival.  The annual festival marking the return of Sandhill cranes to the Columbia Basin will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017.

“We’re very excited to reach 20 years,” notes Festival Coordinator Marie Lotz.  “This year’s festival will be our best one yet—but, of course, I say that every year!”

If the speakers are any indication, Lotz isn’t exaggerating.  The Friday evening speaker is a returning favorite—Nick Zentner from Central Washington University, famous for his “2 Minute Geology” videos.  He will be discussing Washington geology. Saturday afternoon, award-winning photographer and author Paul Bannick is presenting his new book Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls. Saturday’s keynote banquet speaker is Dr. Gary Ivey of the International Crane Foundation, speaking on cranes, colts and trumpeter swans.

It may be 20 years for the festival, but this year’s focus is on the next generation of birders. Cartoonist Jimmye Turner will be on hand to entertain kids with his wildlife caricatures. There will be special presentations just for kids, and as always, there will be face painting, crafts and games, all culminating in prizes for children taking part.

Of course, the highlight of the three-day festival is the tours—Sandhill cranes, ground squirrels, geology, Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and many others. As popular as the tours are, however, there are a lot of other things to do. As in years past, on Saturday the festival features local experts discussing everything from drone use in agriculture to area reptiles to growing mushrooms. The Washington State University Raptor Club is bringing their hawks, owls, eagles and falcons. Local artisans will be there with their crafts, and other exhibitors will be on hand to share Washington’s natural heritage.

“For 20 years, we have been drawing in people from across the country,” added Lotz. “This year’s program is our most diverse and delivers something for everyone. We hope to see old friends return and new visitors drop in to discover the wonders of the Columbia Basin.”

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