I am proud to say that I went to the Crane Festival this weekend!  I have lived in the San Luis Valley my entire life and have never attended this magical event until this year. It was really exciting to see how many sandhill cranes migrate to the San Luis Valley. According to the website cranefest.com:

“Late in February, sandhill cranes, the San Luis Valley’s oldest visitors, begin their annual trek from south to north, stopping off near the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge to load up on fuel. For millions of years, the sandhills have been spending their “Spring Break” in Colorado’s Valley of the Cranes and more recently, wildlife watchers have been drawn to wonder at this phenomenal natural spectacle. No one really knows what the early residents of southern Colorado thought about this majestic migration of cranes, but they were paying attention to it. High on a rocky cliff face southwest of Monte Vista is a well-protected six foot long petroglyph that is unmistakably a sandhill crane. So, as much as 2,000 years ago, humans were celebrating the return of these magnificent birds to the Valley of the Cranes. The festival hosts wildlife experts, local naturalists and biologists who present educational workshops at the Monte Vista Middle School, while flocks of dancing sandhills assemble in the neighboring farm fields, just east of town. Bus tours to the nearby refuge and adjacent farmlands provide visitors with the opportunity to view this spectacle up close and personal, with a knowledgeable local guide. Special tours feature raptor identification, sunset trips to view cranes and visits to closed areas of the refuge for Crane Fest participants.”

My assignment for the Crane Festival was to talk to people and find out how many people were from the valley, how diverse the audience was (referring to ethnicity and age), and think of ways we can diversify the audiences for events such as this. Sadly, the audience was not very diverse in ethnicity or age, but that is most definitely something that we are going to work towards changing. Although the weather was really cold this weekend, being able to see all the beautiful sandhill cranes made the trip well worthwhile. Overall, the Crane Festival truly was a magical event and I cannot wait to reach out to my community and help get more people, especially youth, involved in the magnificent journey of the sandhill cranes.

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