Marsh Madness event draws big crowd: First-ever bird festival showcases Goose Pond FWA
It was truly Marsh Madness as people stood in line Saturday morning to enter the Roy Clark building at Humphreys Park in Linton.
The crowd was even larger than anticipated with nearly 600 people attending by noon.
An extra tour of the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area had to be added to the schedule to accommodate those who were waiting to take a tour of the state wetland.
"It's been constant," said Goose Pond FWA Property Manager Brad Feaster as he looked around the Roy Clark building at guests gathered around the birds of prey and milled around several booths filled with craft items and paintings.
"Even the Sandhill Cranes at Beehunter Marsh put on a good show as they were leaving to feed this morning. It was something to see," Feaster added.
Out of town guests as well as local people were among the visitors.
Ron Warmelink from Seymour said he is an avid fisherman and wanted to experience Marsh Madness as he and Loretta Kluesner rushed from the Roy Clark building to take a bus tour.
"It's interesting," said Kluesner. "I heard Brad Feaster's talk about Goose Pond this morning, which was very informative, and now we're getting ready to take the tour."
Looking at displays, Rex Tuttle, from Linton, noted, "I really am enjoying it. The whole thing is a success."
Even vendors and Department of Natural Resource representatives were enthused about Marsh Madness.
Watercolor artist, Marty Martinez, from Terre Haute said to have wildlife actually come to life is wonderful as he referred to the birds of prey sitting nonchalantly on perches across from his table looking as if they were wondering what all the fuss was about.
Leslie Grow with DNR from Hardy Lake's raptor rehab center shared facts about the birds.
Grow said if the eagle didn't have rest time it would become extremely rambunctious. Even at the best of conditions, it took two people -- Grow and her assistant Brad Gilley - to remove the eagle from its box.
She explained that only birds that had been injured were on display, and it was also interesting to hear how the birds had been injured.
The eagle had fallen from its nest as a chick breaking its wing, the barn owl was hit by an airplane at Louisville Airport, the baard owl was inured when hit by a car, and the red tailed hawk had got tangled in a fence.
Other attractions at the Roy Clark building were vendors selling everything from note cards to bird houses and from jewelry to barnyard items.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the park and at Carnegie Heritage and Art Center more activities were taking place.
In addition to Feaster's talk on GP, Travis Stoelting from Indiana Wildlife Federation spoke on backyard wildlife habitat, and Lee Sterrenburg of Sassafras Audubon discussed birds of the Goose Pond FWA.
At the Girl Scout Cabin children were busy making duck boxes or bird feeders from kits.
At Carnegie, Wyatt LeGrand gave art lessons Saturday morning, and Shad Cox and Terry Smith taught nature photography during the afternoon.
"It has been a really good turnout," said Paul Hoering, who is a Friend of Goose Pond. "Next year we hope to have more things. I think GP is an economic treasure for Greene County as a whole."
The two-day affair began with a chili supper Friday evening followed by a talk given by John Gross, executive director of Indiana Wildlife Federation. John Gregg, former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, emceed Friday evening's events.
Food at Roy Clark building on Saturday was provided by Ladies of Civitan.
"So many people helped to make this a success." Feaster said. "Without their help, this couldn't have gone as well. I want to thank everyone who took part in our first Marsh Madness."