April 23, 2007
Lake Ontario Bird Festival Takes Off May 19 and 20
This year's Lake Ontario Bird Festival, May 19 and 20 at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Mexico, offers one of the most exciting line-ups in the event's 11-year history. Audiences will be fascinated by an array of eagles, hawks, owls and falcons presented by wildlife rehabilitators Jonathon Wood and the Raptor Project, Lorrie Westman's Talons! Birds of Prey Experience, and Ron Walker's Friends with Feathers program.
Experts will present workshops on identifying the many birds of prey and songbirds that congregate along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and make Oswego County a premier birding area.
Jillian Liner, ornithologist with Cornell University's school of ornithology, will discuss the important birding sites in Oswego County -- Selkirk Shores State Park, Three Mile Bay on Oneida Lake, and the Derby Hill Observatory. Janet Allen will present a program for “backyard birders” on how to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. Other presenters include artist and educator Patricia Tanner of the Salmon River Fine Arts Center, environmental educator Pat Carney, and storytellers Ian and Reily Mumpton. Visitors will again have the opportunity to build a bluebird nesting box or purchase a kit.
The festival's duck race down the Little Salmon River will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, which cost $1 each, can be purchased at the festival.
“The race, which was very popular last year, is a fundraiser to support the festival,” said Barbara Lighthall, co-chair of the festival organizing committee and co-owner of the campground. “The festival relies entirely on support from local businesses and community organizations. We've managed to keep it an admission-free family event, thanks to the support of volunteers and businesses in the community.”
Again this year, Native American musicians will share their music and culture.
“The goal in adding the Native Circle to the bird festival is to expose local and visiting youth and adults to a different culture, that of Native America,” said festival co-chair Betty Green of Mexico. “It seemed to be a natural fit with the nature-based festival.”
The Native Circle will include 2006 Native American Music Awards (NAMMY) winner for Best Flutist of the Year, Joseph Firecrow.
“Firecrow has been described as a 'national treasure',” said Laura “Bright Star” Vannah, a member of the Native Circle and the Bird Festival planning committee.
Firecrow is a northern Cheyenne flutist who has recorded numerous CDs including “The Mist”, “Rising Bird”, and his Grammy nominated “Cheyenne Nation.” His appearance is sponsored by a decentralization grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by the Cultural Resources Council.
Thunder Hawk Singers, a Native American drumming group, and David “Searching Owl” Beaulieu, a Native American flutist from New Hampshire, will also perform Saturday and Sunday.
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 Vannah, now living in the Mexico area, have opened for Firecrow, 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 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 founder of Bright Star ProductionZ, a mystery dinner theater based in Mexico, and is a full-time graduate student at SUNY Binghamton, studying for her MA in theater.
The festival is sponsored by Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Resort, Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, Town of Mexico, Oswego County Weeklies, Stewart's Shops, Driftwood Motel, New Haven Building Supply, Port Lodge Motel, Margaret Clerkin, Cultural Resources Council, and Steve's Body Shop.
For details on sponsorship opportunities and festival activities, visit the Lake Ontario Bird Festival Web site at www.lakeontariobirdfest.com or visit www.jellystonecny.com or call 963-7657 or 963-7096, or the Oswego County Tourism Office at 1-800-596-3200, ext. 8322.
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