A chill breeze ruffles the tents, gray clouds loom overhead. “Don’t worry, it’s not going to rain,” I reassured everyone for the hundredth time. Part of it was to reassure myself. The weather apps have their faults don’t they? This was the 19th year that the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge would be having a bird festival, and my first year ever attending one, so of course I wanted everything to be at full swing.
With that many years of experience, they’ve seen the festival improve, grow, and shrink. This year was one of their “small” years, but I never would have guessed. There were a hefty amount of attractions including archery, decoy duck painting, and wagon-rides through the refuge.
The sun still hadn’t appeared as I waited in line for the next wagon ride. Yet to my surprise, there were still a lot of people lined up. I helped people get on the wagon and we made our way. I’m glad I brought a jacket, as the ride was quite cold! As I talked about the refuge and engaged with the passengers, I slowly began to forget about the weather.
The wagon-ride is something that is only done once a year, and is a great way for people who might have difficulty walking to see the refuge. The wagon makes its way through the seasonal trail, stopping at three different sites where the audience are greeted by volunteer naturalists. Each of these stops were centered on different topics including bird nests, bird skulls, and wetland birds.
My job didn’t stop when we got off the wagon, I tried my best to engage people (usually children) who were distracted while listening to the naturalists. I especially enjoyed talking to a family who has gone to the Tualatin Bird fest for the past four years. This family even came out to the 5 o’clock bird walks! In contrast to this family, there were also a lot of people who were visiting the refuge for the first time. Whatever the occasion, I hoped everyone had a memorable moment, I sure did! I saw a mink scurry past, nutria holes, and cinnamon teals!
Despite the constant warning about how stressful this day can be, I really enjoyed it. Though the sunlight didn’t stay for long, the smiles on people’s faces warmed my heart.