Update: This event has been canceled.
The seventh-annual Raptor Fest is making its way back to Gainesville later this month.
Elachee Nature Science Center is set to open the event 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 21, rain or shine.
The event will feature multiple exhibitors such as Dale and Kim Arrowood with Winged Ambassadors, Beth and John Thomson with Blue Ridge Raptors, AWARE Wildlife Center, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, Joel Volpi and others.
Along with live birds, there will be art and crafts, face painting, hikes, live music and food.
The entertainment will be provided by David Court One Man Band. Hot Dog Ninja and Frozen Frenzee will be providing food, drinks and snow cones.
“We really want to bring awareness to predatory birds, such as hawks, vultures, eagles, kestrels. There’s just a wide range of these predatory birds and they are apex predators, so they play a really important role in our ecosystem. We simply just want people to learn more about raptors and hopefully get closer encounters,” said Mallory Pendleton, the education programs manager and camp director for Elachee.
Dale and Kim Arrowood with Winged Ambassadors will be doing flight presentations with a variety of raptors, and visitors will have the chance to see these raptors in flight from just a few feet away.
“We are going to bring a black vulture, Quasimodo, we are going to bring a red-tailed hawk, Harris hawk, a barred owl, a barn owl, an Eurasian eagle owl, a bald eagle and a screech owl,” Dale Arrowood said.
Winged Ambassadors is based in Sharpsburg, southwest of Atlanta and east of Newnan, and focuses on environmental education. Arrowood and his wife, Kim, travel all over the country in order to teach people about the important roles raptors play in our ecosystem.
“The program has an environmental message and especially with a black vulture, a lot of people are surprised at the intelligence of the black vulture because they are highly intelligent and they’re super fun. So the black vulture normally steals the show, except for the bald eagle, of course,” Kim Arrowood said.
There will be special guest appearances from the University of North Georgia’s mascot, Nigel the Nighthawk, children’s author, Morgan Swank, and Left Nut Brewery.
Tickets are $10 per person ages two and up, and $5 per person for Elachee members.