Viera Wetlands Nature Festival returns for 10th annual event


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General Falconer Sharron Montgomery-Pena of Flight of the Raptors and her colleagues will conduct educational shows at the Viera Wetlands Nature Festival.

VIERA VOICE Jill Blue

Most of the time, Raleigh Berry is happy to see it rain at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera. It’s nature’s way of preserving and enhancing life.

But, on April 13 and 14, Berry hopes the rain will skip a weekend for the 10th annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival. The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands is located at 3658 Charlie Corbeil Way in Viera at the most western point of Wickham Road.

“We’re hoping for lovely weather rather than the two days of rain we got last year,’’ said Berry, who is the environmental land manager for the Viera Wetlands. “We plan to have almost the identical set of tours and classes that we had last year. We will have more exhibits, vendors and food trucks on site.’’

The festival’s official schedule will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 14. However, Chris Koeppel will conduct pre-dawn and sunrise tours on both days.

“You’ll see deer and turkeys that early in the morning,’’ Berry said. “The birds in Rookery Island departing is magical. You can hang out or return at sunset and that’s usually spectacular. It’s so beautiful and quiet on the water.’’

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dave MacDonald will conduct tours of the Wetlands.

“Dave is one of our Wetlands Rangers, who is quite a character and lots of fun,’’ Berry said. “He is such a wealth of knowledge and knows all about wildlife. Being in golf carts will provide visibility that will be magnificent.’’

Dr. Stephen Blythe will conduct an introduction to photography class for people who want to learn how to take photos at the Wetlands.

“Dr. Blythe has 40 years of experience in photography,’’ Berry said. “It’s geared to beginners. People can even use their smartphones, and he’ll give tips on how to take the best photos.’’

Walking tours conducted by Wetland Rangers will be conducted throughout the morning and afternoon. The tours will last from 45 minutes to as long as an hour.

The Flight of the Raptors, falconers and educators will return with their birds of prey. Shows will be conducted throughout the day. Attendees will have an opportunity to take photos.

“I love seeing both the involvement of adults as well as the children,’’ said Laurie Widzgowski, the marketing and event coordinator for The Viera Company and Viera Community Institute. “You really see the excitement on everyone’s faces as they line up for the tours. It’s a really fun event.’’

For more information, go to tinyurl.com/VWNatureFest, the Viera Community Institute Facebook page or to VieraCommunityInstitute.com.

“The people who come to this event are so knowledgeable,’’ Widzgowski said. “The Viera Wetlands Nature Festival is a fantastic opportunity for the community to learn about the many opportunities available to them in making a difference with our environment.’’

The Viera Wetlands Nature Festival is hosted by the Brevard County Natural Resource Management Department and Utility Services. It is a fundraiser to help the Wetlands.

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