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April 10, 2006

Bird Festival Features Native American Circle and Storytelling Around the Campfire

THUNDER HAWK SINGERS, a Native American drumming group, bring a new dimension to the tenth annual Lake Ontario Bird Festival, May 6 at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort in Mexico. Laura “Bright Star” Vannah and Donald Blackfox will perform, and Vannah will lead two workshops on spirit totems of animals that live in Central New York. The festival will close with storytelling and Native American music around a campfire.

MEXICO, NY – Native American culture, traditions, and music will be featured at this year’s Lake Ontario Bird Festival Saturday, May 6, at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort in Oswego County. The festival is a free, family event that celebrates the annual spring migration of raptors and songbirds along the eastern Lake Ontario shoreline.

Thunder Hawk Singers, a Native American drumming group, and David “Searching Owl” Beaulieu, a Native American flutist from New Hampshire, will perform during the day and around an evening campfire by the side of the Little Salmon River.

Thunder Hawk Singers was formed in Massachusetts in 2000. Their first CD, “Native Pride,” featured music from the Mi’kmaq and Northern Cheyenne nations, and was nominated for a Native American Music Award in 2001. Two of the original members, Donald Blackfox and Laura “Bright Star” Vannah, now living in the Mexico area, have opened for Joseph Firecrow, a Northern Cheyenne recording artist; performed with Keith Secola at the opening ceremonies of the 2001 Native American Music Awards; and at the Ronald McDonald House NYC fundraiser in 2002.

Blackfox, of Mi’kmaq and Cree descent, is the founder of Ravenhawk Productions and produces music by Native American artists, bringing together his passion for music and the ways and traditions of the indigenous people of North America. Vannah’s first passion is music. She spent 20 years as a classically trained pianist, and ten years studying at the New England Conservatory for Music. She has trained in ceremonial and sacred traditions with native groups in the U.S. and Canada. She is the founder of Bright Star ProductionZ, a mystery dinner theater based in Mexico and a full-time graduate student at SUNY Binghamton, studying for her MA in theater . For listings of upcoming shows visit www.brightstarproductionz.com.

Vannah will teach two workshops on totem spirits and their connections to wildlife found in Central New York. Through her workshop, “Totem Spirits: Nature speaks to us if we listen,” youth and adults will learn the meanings of traditional animal totems and create drawings of them.

“Indigenous wisdom, music and healing traditions are very close to my heart, and I have been exploring and studying them for many years,” said Vannah. “My workshops teach another way to learn about ourselves and the world around us. We are always connected to the earth, and it to us. Our hope is that you will experience a ‘Touch of Native America’.”

David “Searching Owl” Beaulieu makes handcrafted Native American courting flutes from various woods and performs original Native American flute music. He’s been influenced by many native artists and has performed and led workshops at festivals and powwows across the U.S. He will launch his new CD, “Faith on Fire,” at the festival. For links to his music, visit www.soaring-spirits.com

Several wildlife rehabilitators will show and teach about hawks, falcons, owls and a variety of other birds of prey. The festival will also include workshops on attracting birds to your yard, duck carving, sketching and nature journaling, and bluebird nesting boxes.

There will be special hands-on activities for children, including a “Birding by Fledglings” workshop by environmental educator Pat Carney and ongoing workshops led by Linda Roll and 4-H youth development staff of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County. Children will be able to make bird feeders, do art projects, study the birding project displayed by students of the New Haven Elementary School, and view entries of the bird festival coloring contest.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. Beginning at 6 p.m. Ian and Reily Mumpton will share “Timberdoodle Tales” around the campfire, followed by more Native American music.

The tenth annual Lake Ontario Bird Festival is sponsored by the Town of Mexico, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort, Oswego County Department of Promotion and Tourism, Caraccioli and Associates, Constellation Energy Nine Mile Point, Eastern Shore Associates, Eddie’s Big M, Hiscock and Barclay, LLP, New Haven Building Supply, North Country Veterinary Services, Ontario Orchards, Oswego County Weeklies, Port Lodge Motel, Price Chopper, Redwood Motel, and Stewart’s Shops.

For information, call (315) 963-7096 or 349-8322.

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