(By Nick Schneider)
Preparations have been made for the Fourth Annual Marsh Madness event set for March 1-2 with expanded venues this year in Linton and Jasonville, as well as the Goose Pond FWA.
"It's not terribly early (for the Sandhill Cranes), but it does seem like they are arriving earlier every year," Brad Feaster, property manager for Goose Pond, Hillenbrand and Minnehaha Fish and Wildlife Areas, said.
At Tuesday's weekly bird count, there were about 1,500 Sandhills on the Goose Pond property -- which is down from about 3,500 the week before, Feaster said.
"We've got pretty good reason to believe that a lot of the cranes that were here a week ago are now down in Tennessee," Feaster said. "It's good that they are down there. That means that they have got to come back."
Feaster said predicting when the Sandhills will converge on the area is not an exact science.
"When you start seeing cranes in January, you get a little worried and wonder are these birds going back north or are they coming south?"
Feaster said for an ideal Sandhill invasion to coincide with the Marsh Madness celebration, he would prefer for the water to stay frozen over and cold temperatures in this area for another couple of weeks, then warm up.
"It would be nice to have a bunch of cranes here for Marsh Madness," he said.
Feaster is excited at the Marsh Madness schedule, which has expanded to the Jasonville area with the opening Peabody Energy kick-off banquet set for Friday, March 1 at Shakamak State Park.
Keynote speaker will be Michael Sertle, of Ducks Unlimited, and an extensive live and silent auction from 7 to 10 p.m.
Admission is $25 person, which includes a one-year membership to the Friends of the Goose Pond organization and admission or a discount for Saturday's events.
Throughout the weekend, wildlife artist Robin Myers, of Bloomfield, will be showing her artwork at Carnegie Heritage and Arts Center in Linton.
An art show reception will be conducted by Myers from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"We are thrilled to death that she will be here," Feaster added.
Another new addition will be pancake and sausage breakfast sponsored by Linton Rotary Club from 7 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Linton Fire Department.
Tickets are $5 in advance; $6 at the door; and children 10 and under are $3. You can buy tickets at the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce Office or Richard Brown Insurance.
Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the Rotary Club student scholarship program.
Ducks Unlimited is sponsoring a waterfowl-calling contest Saturday afternoon on the stage at Humphreys Park in Linton.
A retriever dog demonstration is also planned for Saturday on Goose Pond Unit ll South, providing it is not iced over.
"That is always real cool to watch the dogs work and see them retrieve," Feaster said.
Throughout Saturday will be some wildlife and conservation-related informational sessions and workshops from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in Humphreys Park.
In addition there will be bus and self-guided tours through parts of Goose Pond FWA with special waterfowl viewing opportunities from 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
A variety of exhibitors will be set up in the Roy Clark Community Building from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday.
In the West Cabin at Humphreys Park, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, there will be Kids' Activities, including birdhouse construction, picture coloring and handouts.
Earth Joy Tree Climbing will also be featured 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the front part of the park.
The weekend's activities will conclude Saturday night ---- March 2 ---- with a Sportsman's Night Out from 7 to 10 p.m. at Shakamak State Park.
"It's geared for the most part towards hunters. They have a lot of hunting equipment that they raffle off. They are going to serve a meal. It's kind of a laid back chance for patrons to come out and support Ducks Unlimited and hopefully, they'll get lucky and win a gun or some other hunting equipment," Feaster explained.
Marsh Madness is a cooperative effort by the Friends of Goose Pond, Linton Civitan Club, Linton Rotary Club, Carnegie Heritage and Art Center, the city of Linton, Linton Public Library, Sassafras Audubon Society, Greene County Daily World, Linton First Christian Church, Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife, and Ducks Unlimited.
All venues are within Humpreys Park in Linton unless noted.
Friday, March 1
Venue: Shakamak State Park Youth Camp Dining Hall, Jasonville.
7-10 p.m. ---- Peabody Energy Kick-off Banquet Dinner and Soft Drinks, Cash Bar; Keynote Speaker Michael Sertle of Ducks Unlimited; Live and Silent Auction; Overnight lodging is available at the Group Camp or cabins of Shakamak State Park. Call park office to make reservations at 1-866-6CamPIN (1-866-622-6746).
Saturday, March 2
Venue: Linton Fire Department
7-10:30 a.m. ---- Pancake & Sausage Breakfast sponsored by Linton Rotary Club. Tickets: $5 advance; $6 at door; children 10 and under $3. Buy tickets at Linton Chamber Office or Richard Brown Insurance. Proceeds will benefit Rotary student scholarships.
Venue: Roy Clark Community Center
9 a.m. - 5 pm ---- Art & Craft Fair
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. ---- Birds of Prey
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. ---- Lunch available
Venue: Scout Cabin
9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m Speakers/Workshops
9:30 - 10:10 a.m. ---- Travis Stoelting: Happenings at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area
10:20 - 11 a.m. ---- Adam Phelps: The Mississippi Flyway, Rivers & Waterfowl Migration
11:10 - 11:50 p.m. ---- Lee Sterrenburg: Migratory Birds of GPFWA: Do the Local Wetland & Grassland Restorations Have Global Impacts? If so, why?
1-1:40 p.m. ---- Dan Kaiser: Adventures of a Crane Fanatic
1:50 - 2:30 p.m. ---- Amanda Wuestefeld: Take Pride - It's YOUR Nature
2:40 - 3:30 p.m. ---- Michael Sertle: 75 Years of Wetlands Conservation & Still Going Strong
Venue: Carnegie Heritage and Arts Center
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. ---- Art Show Reception featuring Art from the Wild by Robin Johnson Myers. Meet the artist, see her work and enjoy the historical Carnegie Heritage & Arts Center
Venue: East Cabin
7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. ---- Bus Tours
7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. ---- Self-guided tours (maps available)
9 a.m - 6 p.m. ---- Exhibitors
Venue: West Cabin
9 a.m. - 3 p.m. ---- Kids' Activities, includes birdhouse construction, picture coloring, handouts and other activities
Venue: Humphreys Park (near front)
9 a.m.-5 p.m. ---- Earth Joy Tree Climbing, brought to you by McDonald's and Greene County General Hospital
Venue: Humphreys Park Stage
Time TBD ---- Waterfowl Calling Contest
Venue: Goose Pond 11N
Time TBD ---- Retriever Demonstrations
Venue: Shakamak State Park Youth Camp Dining Hall
5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. ---- Ducks Unlimited Sportsmen Night Out Fundraiser. Overnight lodging is available at the Group Camp or cabins of Shakamak State Park. Call park office to make reservations at 1-866-6CamPIN (1-866-622-6746).