Tours offered at eighth annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival


Exhibits at the Viera Wetlands Nature Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23 will feature local wildlife and more.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Usually, the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera is a quiet and solitary place to enjoy some of Brevard County's wildlife. It's one of the hidden jewels in the county at the west end of North Wickham Road on 3685 Charlie Corbeil Way in Viera.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23, it won't be as solitary but it promises to be fun.

Supporting Viera's Natural Wonders is the theme for this year's eighth annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival. Exhibits will feature local wildlife such as birds, bats and butterflies. Native plants, nature photography and art also will be highlighted. The festival is free to the public.

Sunrise tours will be offered both days through advanced registration and sunset tours will be offered Saturday night through prior registration.

Other scheduled activities will include guided walking and van tours of the wetlands, tours of the adjacent water reclamation facility and workshops in both wildlife photography and birding.

At noon on Saturday, April 22, the winners of the Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards youth art, photo and essay contests will be announced. The first-, second- and third-place winners in all categories will have their work displayed. Checks for the winning entries will be awarded.

Corbeil, who died in late 2013, co-wrote a popular column called "Parting Shot" with his wife, Charlotte, for the Viera Voice. A few photos complemented each column. He was a co-founder of the Viera Wetlands Festival.

Charlotte Corbeil resumed the column after his death and now calls it "Charlotte's Web-Spinning Tales." She welcomes budding photographers to supply photos to complement the column.

Certification of the site’s butterfly garden, overlooking the wetlands' central lake, as an official Monarch Waystation also is planned.

 Many of the festival’s tours will be led by volunteer Wetland Rangers, who will share their knowledge and experience of the wetlands and its inhabitants. Additional guides include local photography notables.

On Saturday, an advanced sunrise photo workshop will be led by Pat “Whitey” Bryan, and a sunset photo walk will be conducted by Patty Corapi. Also scheduled for Saturday, a sunset tour by Florida Master Naturalist Ivan Green will follow the evening installation of a bat house and presentation by Shari Blissett-Clark, president of Florida Bat Conservancy.

Kimberly Novak of Novak Designs, LLC will sponsor a fairy garden contest. Depending on the number of entrants, she will give out prizes to the top two or three entrants. The fairy gardens will be displayed Saturday and Sunday, with the winners to be announced at noon on Saturday.

All proceeds will be donated back to the wetlands.

 Throughout the festival, nature-related exhibitors and food vendors will be present.

The Viera Wetlands Nature Festival is sponsored by The Viera Company and Viera Community Institute to help raise funds in support of public access and environmental management programs at the Viera Wetlands. Admittance to the festival is free.

 While registering for tours and classes online, donations in support of the wetlands are welcome, but are not required. Some tours and workshops are limited by available seating or other considerations and early registration is encouraged.

 To register for tours and workshops, go to the Eventbrite page or contact