Thursday, September 30, 2010
National Audubon Society’s largest nature festival, held annually on the weekend after Labor Day in Holly Springs, celebrated nature and sustainable living with around 8,000 guests and 140 volunteers.
“In a society that’s become more sedentary and indoors-oriented, it was literally a breath of fresh air for people of all ages to get outdoors and experience the wonders of nature,” said Bubba Hubbard, director of Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.
What an amazing venue for such an event with habitat restoration demonstrations that span 2,600 acres. While watching hummingbirds dart between wildflowers, many guests admired the beautiful native plant gardens and scenery during guided nature walks and wagon rides.
This event is well on its way to becoming a model for sustainable outdoor festivals.
“These people just got a heavy dose of low impact living,” said Suzanne Langley, director of Seine Marketing Communications Inc.
Langley coordinated presentations and demonstrations throughout the event on sustainable living as it relates to shopping, eating, cleaning and recycling for the health of our environment. Some 4-H groups from Germantown, Tenn., and Boy Scout Troop #457 led the charge to recycle all the event refuse.
Amazingly, after 11 consecutive years of the festival, 72 percent of the visitors were attending for the first time and they came from at least eight states, plus England and Australia. Strawberry Plains’ survey indicated guests came from – Mississippi (41 percent), Memphis metro area (37 percent, includes parts of Mississippi), Tennessee (16 percent, other than Memphis) and 6 percent from other states and countries.
Cooling rains on Friday and Saturday may have kept some people away.
“It was fantastic and we enjoyed every piece of it,” said Lin Harper, Audubon Mississippi state board member from Hattiesburg. “We ate lunch in the rain, got completely soaked and totally enjoyed ourselves.”
With only a staff of seven, the event would not have been possible without the hard work of volunteers. They came from all walks of life, from students to college professors and business persons. Among the many speakers and exhibitors were Douglas Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home, How You Can to Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” and Greg Butcher, the National Audubon Society’s director of conservation.
Bob Sargent’s hummingbird banding crew had a great weekend, banding 259 ruby-throated hummingbirds.
“There were so many hummers we had to cease the capture process a dozen times during the festival. Never have I seen so many ruby-throated hummingbirds at this beautiful location,” Sargent said.
Birds should be around for another month and visitors are invited to come and see the hummers. Tour groups should call 662-252-2515 for full house tours and 662-252-1155 for general information. Go to http://strawberryplains.audubon.org. for additional information.
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