Updated with photo gallery: Marsh Madness Festival always a hit

Saturday, February 17, 2024
Sandhill cranes soar over the wetland Saturday, circling until they find the best place to land.
Photo by Patti Danner

Although Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1383, which rolls back protection for many of Indiana's protected wetlands in January, there was plenty of reason to celebrate another year of Goose Pond's Marsh Madness on February 16 and 17 in Linton.

As Goose Pond FWA Property Manager Kalli Dunn explained, Goose Pond FWA is a DNR Fish and Wildlife Area funded by hunting and fishing licenses and owned by the DNR. The wetlands property, Dunn said, is protected in perpetuity and won’t be affected by the recent wetlands protection rollbacks.

The annual Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane Festival, put on by the Friends of Goose Pond (FoGP) in partnership with Goose Pond FWA and with the help of many civic organizations and businesses from Greene County and beyond, as well as numerous conservation organizations, went off without a hitch last weekend, despite the cold temperatures and Friday’s snowfall.

Many guests braved the snow-covered roads Friday to attend the annual Friday Kickoff Dinner at 6 p.m. at the Linton Elks Lodge.

The dinner is held to kick off the festival and serves as a major fundraiser for FoGP.

A silent auction was held, as well as a regular auction by popular auctioneers Brian and Jesse Woods.

Speakers at the event included FoGP’s Dane Strahle and George Sly, who had the honor of presenting Goose Pond FWA Intern and St. Mary of the Woods College senior Gillian Perry with a $1,000 scholarship given by FoGP.

Perry, who is majoring in environmental science with minors in chemistry and math, will pursue a career in conservationism after graduation.

The silent auction featured items including paintings, books, birdhouses, carved wooden birds and a box full of folded paper cranes, and the regular auction included a custom-made oval box, a fly-fishing kit complete with a pole, fly lures and a free fly-fishing lesson with a pro and an original painting of an Indiana barn owl with a unique wooden-slat frame by Noblesville Artist Bruce Neckar, which sold for $625.

On Saturday, the festival took place at three locations in Linton, all offering different and unique attractions for festival-goers.

At the Carnegie Heritage and Arts Center of Linton, patrons enjoyed a showing of Neckar’s work with a reception and brief class at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Kids were treated to an origami crane crafting activity, and guests could watch a streaming of the documentary, “Story of a Wetland”.

At the Roy Clark Building at Humphreys Park, ticketholders enjoyed informational booths and displays from Hoosiers for Whoopers and the International Crane Foundation, the Hoosier Herpetological Society with Ethan Estabrook, Natural History Interpreter George Sly, the Wabash Valley Audubon Society, Wilkes Food Concessions, instructional demonstrations and art/craft vendors including Stone Branch Images and Greene Water Goods.

From the park, guided tours were provided to Goose Pond FWA from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m..

At the Goose Pond FWA Visitors Center, more learning opportunities abounded, from learning how to spot the tracks and the scat of several animals to learning how captivity-born cranes learn to migrate from humans cleverly disguised as crane mommies and daddies.

Using one of several telescopes set up at the Visitors Center, guests could ogle Reba the Whooping Crane, also known by the bands on her legs and the radio transmitter she wears as Whooping Crane 14/15, who is described as a bit of a diva, looking like Beyonce surrounded by a crush of eager Sandhill crane paparazzi through the telescope lens. The leg bands and transmitters serve to provide unique identification for each bird with their combinations of colors, and allow the Foundation to log the activity of each bird on its migratory route.

The Foundation relies on reports from crane watchers who spot the animals and submit photos, thus documenting crane locations during the year.

For more information on:

• Friends of Goose Pond - visit friendsofgoosepond.org

• Goose Pond FWA and live stream birding cameras - visit www.in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/properties/goose-pond-fwa/goose-pond-fish-and-w...

• Natural History Interpreter George Sly - visit www.reflectionsinnaturalhistory.com

• The Hoosier Herpetological Society - visit www.hoosierherpsociety.org

• The Wabash Valley Audubon Society - visit www.wabashvalleyaudubonsociety.org

• Greene Water Goods - Find them on Facebook

• The International Crane Foundation including bios of all banded cranes like Reba- visit www.savingcranes.org.

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