Hold a baby alligator, view a bald eagle up close, try out canoeing, fly fishing, archery and more at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge’s Festival & Open House Saturday, Oct. 18.
The event celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week and it’s designed to introduce the area public to a local resource that offers nature in its natural state. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with bird walks starting at 8 at the headquarters unit, 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City. It’s located off the Teague Parkway Extension, three-quarters of a mile south of the Jimmie Davis Bridge
The outdoor festival will feature a range of live wildlife, such as baby alligators, snakes, insects, fish and raptors, as well as activities, including hayrides, fly fishing, Bossier Sheriff’s rescue boats, nature projects and special activities for children. There’s a “Be a Bear” obstacle course, an archeology display and activities, professional face painting, and chances to try some archery with 4-H clubbers. Walter B. Jacobs Park will offer an up-close-and-personal look at an American bald eagle.
Large and small cart tours of the refuge are available and will include some of the seven miles of trails at the Headquarters Unit. At 11 a.m., Janet Creech of the Friends Landscape Committee will lead a plant walk and tour of the native plantings around the Visitor Center.
On Lake Caroline, just behind the Visitor Center, members of the Ozark Society will oversee canoeing and kayaking activities, while nature and bird walks will take place along the perimeter trails. Bird Walks for intermediate and advance birders start at 8 a.m. while a bird walk for families and beginners will start at 9 a.m. Binoculars and field guides are available free for check-out at the Nature Store.
In the $3.8 million Visitor and Education Center that opened in 2012, visitors can view the Exhibit Hall and student art contest entries. This year’s contest will feature local student entries in the “Louisiana’s Natural Treasures” art contest.
All festival activities are free. Those who wish to purchase lunch or yogurt may do so at the Counter Culture Food Truck and then dine in the air-conditioning at tables in the Environmental Education Center, where free water, coffee, tea and lemonade will be available. Light refreshments will also be available in the morning. Nature-related items will be on sale in the Friends’ Nature Store, which is offering special festival discounts, inside the Visitor Center. Proceeds will benefit refuge educational and conservation projects.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Red River NWR with assistance from the Friends of the Red River NWR. The Headquarters Unit and Visitor Center are located along the Red River south of the Jimmie Davis/70th Street Bridge at 150 Eagle Bend Point in Bossier City. The refuge is accessed via a dedicated exit from the new Arthur Ray Teague Parkway extension. The boat launch to Lake Caroline is located at a second dedicated exit, east of the main entrance.
IF YOU GO:
Who: Red River National Wildlife Refuge
What: Annual Open House and Festival, free & open to the public
When: Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., with bird walks starting at 8 for intermediate to experienced birders and at 9 for families and beginners
Where: Red River NWR, 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City (off Teague Parkway Ext.)
Admission: All activities are free. (Lunch and Nature Store items for sale)
For more information: 318-742-1219 (RRNWR)