Viera Wetlands Nature Festival draws happy crowd

Visitors to the 10th annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival enjoyed the popular event, which was held April 13 and 14 at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands.

Hundreds flocked to the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera on April 13 and 14 for the 10th annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival.

Patrons who visited the wetlands were able to see a host of animals, including alligators, turtles and a variety of birds in what can best be described as a relaxing atmosphere at the facility, which is located off the west end of Wickham Road.

The event attracted those who are familiar with the sprawling and picturesque grounds.

"We like to come out to the Viera Wetlands on a frequent basis to check out all the different birds and animals," said Bert Alm of Viera who was with his wife Val, who described the pair as "bird nerds."

It also drew first-time visitors, as well, such as Ken and Susan Nader of Viera.

"There’s a lot of beautiful wildlife, beautiful birds. There’s many, many good sized alligators out here," Ken Nader said. "... When you put it all together, you enjoy the scenery and you meet people along the way. You have a chit-chat. … God created this whole thing and it’s beautiful."

In addition to the natural scenery, a Flight of the Raptor show featuring a falcon was performed and a number of vendors also were on hand.

"It’s a tremendous gem, if you will, for the community,’’ said Laurie Widzgowski, the marketing and event coordinator for The Viera Company and Viera Community Institute. "So I think having a festival like this every year, and this is the 10th year for the festival, it’s just so important to let them come out and see if they’re not familiar with it. And you know, bring the kids out at a young age and acclimate them to these things and all the exhibitors are bringing. It just has been phenomenal.’’

Also, as part of the event, the Viera Voice announced the winners of the Charlie Corbeil Youth Contest. Children created art, photography and writing relative to the contest’s theme of the "Beauty of Wild Florida."

"Who knows? If you get one out of 100 (children interested in nature) that’s great, that really becomes interested, I think," said Charlotte Corbeil, Charlie’s widow.

Arianna Munroe of Palm Bay received a second-place prize.

"I heard about nature and that was just the first thing that came to my head," said Munroe of her portrait.

A full list of the winners can be found on page 31 and at VV