S.E. Colorado Offers Snow and Geese for Festival

There were geese and there was snow for the 13th Annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar this past February 19-22.  Event organizers were leery of the potential for heavy snows cancelling some reservations for the weekend, especially for those who were traveling long distances.  Fortunately most of the tours went off as planned, with the exception of the Sunday Sunrise Tour to Kiowa County which was cancelled because of snow.  Weather also cancelled the music and dance which was scheduled to follow Saturday night’s banquet.

Vincent Gearhart, chairman of this year’s Festival, said there were some changes felt as two key committee members, Linda Groat of Colorado Parks and Wildlife had been transferred out of the area and another CPW employee, John Koshak, who came out of retirement and was a solid contributor to the event, obtaining a CHAMP grant from the Colorado Tourism Office which helped fund planning the programs and tours.  Gearhart said, “John also led several of the tours and was the emcee for our banquet.  His experience and support was always a key factor in planning the Festival.”

Gearhart said there were some new features for attendees, plus the appearance of Jim Pfitzer as the Festival keynote entertainer.  “Jim acted as a guide for several birding expeditions and his versatility as a knowledgeable naturalist, birder and as an entertainer was a highlight for us this year.”  The audience was also entertained with a performance from Lex Nichols of Rocky Ford.  Nichols recently won a Native American Music Award and received a NAMMY in the Native Heart category for his flute and guitar musical compilations and has four CDs on iTunes.

Dutch Oven Cooking is becoming a food feature for local events and Pat Palmer and his crew hosted a Dutch Oven Cooking Workshop on Saturday which provided vittles that might have been part of the menu for cowboys working a trail herd from over a century ago.  Palmer said folks sampled stew, cornbread and cobbler.

Weather on Friday afternoon gave some people a taste of winds, dust and tumbleweeds as they ventured out on the South Canyon tour.  Gearhart said, “The participants were right in the middle of a dust storm which was a first time experience for a lot of them. The tour was delayed in coming back until 9pm instead of the scheduled return at 5pm.  They lost track of time, but had one of the best tours ever, as they encountered Elk, Road Runners and Bighorn Sheep, plus a viewing of the petroglyphs in Picture and Carrizo Canyons.  That was one experience they’ll remember for years to come.”

It’s always a matter of luck each year when there might be thousands of migrating geese to view during the Festival.  There were some viewings of Canada and Snow geese this year, Gearhart stated, but overall, the numbers were down from past years as most of the migration had already passed through the region.  He added, “As in past years, the participants come to our area to see the diversity of local and migrating birds.   Willow Creek behind Lamar Community College is a popular attraction for birding, featuring many different species.”

Each year, Festival organizers plan their advertising strategy to attract a new group of visitors, as well as returnees.  Gearhart commented, “Shawna Hodge did an excellent job of marketing the Festival to various birding publications, clubs and magazines.  We also used Facebook and explored some different markets than in past years.  Shawna also used a video ad that was broadcast on Charter Communications channels that was aired in various markets.”

Gearhart will head the committee for next year’s event.  “We will hold our wrap-up meeting at the Lamar Chamber soon and evaluate how things went, what we may show more of, or less depending on vendors, tours, workshops and seminars from this year’s Festival.  It won’t be long before we start work on the 2016 Snow Goose Festival.  We offer a unique opportunity on the High Plains for birding and cultural heritage enthusiasts,” he said.

For more information, visit the website at: highplainssnowgoose.com and on Facebook, click here: High Plains Snow Goose Festival.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: communityEducationEntertainmentEnvironmentEventsFeaturedFestivalLamarMedia ReleaseProwers CountyRecreationTourism


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