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April 28, 2006

STORYTELLERS Ian (left) and Reily Mumpton, also known as “Runs Like a Deer” and “Hoots with the Owls,” will entertain visitors to the Lake Ontario Bird Festival Saturday, May 6 in Mexico. The boys will present “Timberdoodle Tales” at 6 p.m. around a campfire at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort, 601 Co. Rte. 16, Mexico. For festival information call (315) 963-7096 or (315) 349-8322.

Mumpton Brothers Share ‘Timberdoodle Tales’ May 6 at Festival Campfire

The tall tales of the Adirondacks come naturally to Ian and Reily Mumpton. The boys’ backyard adjoins the 4,000-acre Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area near Altmar in Oswego County, and they are intimately familiar with the changing of the seasons and the creatures that inhabit their woods.

Ian, age 16, and Reily, age 12, have a flair for drama as well. For several years they’ve been involved in theater productions with the Oswego Children’s Theatre. They’ve accompanied their mother, environmental educator Pat Carney, on hikes and excursions with school children since they were babies. The family frequently reads aloud to each other, and the boys have always enjoyed entertaining people with humorous and exaggerated stories of wilderness creatures and exploits of frontier men.

So it’s a natural fit for Ian and Reily to entertain visitors at the Lake Ontario Bird Festival May 6 in Mexico. The boys will present “Timberdoodle Tales” at 6 p.m. Saturday evening around a campfire at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort, 601 Co. Rte. 16.

Ian explains that a “timberdoodle” is a mythological toad-like creature that is said to inhabit the northern forests. Timberdoodle is also another name for woodcock, a game bird that’s known for its elaborate springtime dance at dusk in northern fields.

Their stories draw on the boys’ love of the outdoors, their love of history, and their talent for storytelling. They’ve shared “Timberdoodle Tales” with summer recreation programs, area schools and other groups. Dressed as hunters and trappers, Ian assumes the identity of “Runs Like a Deer,” and Reily takes on the character of “Hoots with the Owls,” based on eighteenth or nineteenth century Adirondack woodsmen.

Reily’s name originates from his habit, as a tiny baby in a backpack, of answering his mother’s owl calls as she led groups through the woods on “owl prowls” at the 4-H Environmental Education Center in Amboy.

Reily, who says he’s not much of a fisherman, will share the story of Hoots with the Owl’s pet trout. Although he’s reluctant to reveal many details, Ian promises to share an original story about a chicken. The boys have carefully selected clothing and accessories that reflect the lifestyle of their characters. Their costumes include a leather shirt with antler buttons, large raccoon hat, a worn and floppy felt hat, heavy wool pants, leather moccasins, and woven pack baskets.

The boys have been home-schooled for several years and relish the luxury of having time to pursue their individual interests.

“The structure of home-schooling works well for my learning style,” said Ian. “I am extremely auditory.” After he’s completed his classroom work he turns his attention to medieval history, broad swords, and writing. He is co-directing a children’s theater production of “Excalibur” at the Frances Marion Brown Theatre in Oswego in May. Reily has the role of Kaye, Arthur’s half-brother, in the performance.

The boys are also very involved in canoeing – paddling, restoring a family canoe from the 1920s, and building their own canoes. The family takes part in a weeklong “canoe camp” every summer at Paul Smith’s College.

Joining them around the Bird Festival campfire will be native American musicians Laura Vannah and Donald Blackfox of Thunder Hawk singers, and David “Searching Owl” Beaulieu, who plays the native American courting flute.

The festival begins at 9:30 a.m. and will close around 9 p.m. There is no admission charge, and events will take place rain or shine.

Ongoing throughout the day will be programs and displays of live birds; music by the Thunder Hawk Singers and Beaulieu; special projects and workshops for children; bluebird nesting box workshops with naturalist John Rogers; duck carving demonstrations; appearances by “Okwaha” the wolf and her owner, Karen DePeitro; the Oswego County Health Department’s best-tasting water contest, and a display of classic cars by the Country Cruisers.

The 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, Harris Seeds, Greater Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Hiscock and Barclay, LLP, New Haven Building Supply, North Country Veterinary Services, Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Oswego County Weeklies, PathFinder Bank, Port Lodge Motel, Price Chopper, Redwood Motel, and Stewart’s Shops.

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

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