Bring in Spring with Birds, Beer, and Fun
For the City-Times
What do birds, beer, and spring all have in common? Now in its ninth year, the 2014 Central Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival brings birdwatchers and beer lovers together for a weekend of fun and celebration.
Recently declared “Celebration of Grasslands Month” by Portage and surrounding counties, April ushers in spring with a focus on the largest contiguous tract of grasslands east of the Mississippi River and its most elusive inhabitant, the Greater Prairie Chicken. Known for its low “booming” sound that can be heard over a mile away, the prairie chicken delights and amuses wildlife enthusiasts with its dancing and courtship displays – so much, in fact, that birdwatchers come from around the world to see this “bucket list” bird.
Thanks to Golden Sands RC&D, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, you can see this precious prairie inhabitant for yourself.
The charismatic prairie chicken is known to entertain kids, too. Celebration of Grasslands Month begins at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 5th with the Grassland Gala. Hosted by Golden Sands RC&D and the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum, the gala offers kids four hours of free activities such as grassland-themed arts and crafts, live music, movies and popcorn, and a visit by festival mascot, Boomin’ Bob.
Kids can join students from local area schools in the Prairie Chicken Poster Contest and have a chance to win two reservations for prairie chicken viewing. Parents will find plenty to do with prairie-themed presentations and displays, food and goods from local vendors, and a chance to bid on a wide variety of items donated by local businesses in support of the festival.
After the kids have had their fun, settle in the following weekend with a cold beer at the Boomin’ Brewery Bash. Housed in the recently expanded Central Waters Brewing Company in Amherst, WI, the bash runs from 3-9 PM. on Saturday, April 12th and features energetic performances by Joe.e and the Sand Prairie Band.
Hang out with Boomin’ Bob and have a sip on Golden Sands RC&D’s Boomin’ Brew Ale while you play prairie chicken trivia and bid on silent auction items, then peruse displays and exhibits by local conservation organizations. Enjoy arts, crafts, and food from local vendors and presentations on how you can help keep the grasslands in Central Wisconsin and create habitat for the Greater Prairie Chicken and other species on your own property.
The celebration wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Buena Vista Wildlife Area to see the star of the show. Prairie chickens get up early to meet and greet, so you’ll have to arrive before dawn at the Kiwanis Lodge in Kellner, WI, on the mornings of April 11-13.
re doing to sustain the prairie chicken population. After breakfast on April 12th and 13th, you’ll have a chance to see live bird demonstrations and go back into the grasslands for a glimpse of other rare and unusual birds on the Grassland Bird Tour.
To make a reservation for Greater Prairie Chicken Viewing or Grassland Bird Tours, visit www.prairiechickenfestival.org or call (715) 343-6215.