As excited as we are to share details of the upcoming 23rd Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival January 22-27, 2020, we do so with a note of sadness. The festival will really bring home the reality that Bill Thompson III from the BirdWatchers Digest family is no longer with us. Bill was a huge supporter of our festival, and was the first person that Barb ever spoke to when she came on board as the new Brevard Nature Alliance and Festival Executive Director in May of 2016. He freely shared his passion for birding, and provided insight and suggestions only when solicited on how to ensure the festival would be successful from both an administrative and attendee perspective. We loved participating in the Bird Watcher’s Digest American Birding Expo and were grateful for invitations extended to participate in marketing summits which provided us with some wonderful exposure to so many in the birding community. Bill, you will be missed but not forgotten!
Each year we continue to perfect the festival experience for the attendee! This year, in an attempt to ensure a pelagic or offshore boating trip, we have made arrangements to offer the trip at the beginning of the festival, with a back-up date at the end of the festival should the weather decide to be troublesome! Last year we expanded our offering to include manatees; we are doing so including Florida’s most charismatic ambassador again this year as both a field trip in Blue Springs State Park but also and as an underwater photography experience at Crystal River State Park. Our new addition last year of the Barrier Island Environmental Center and Pelican Island Fly-In was so successful (and the first trip to sell out) we are doing it twice this year – sign up early!
Another wonderful aspect of being a participant at the American Birding Expo was all the wonderful people we got to meet. Many of them became new exhibitors last year and are coming back this year, and we have several new art and craft exhibitors, which we are very pleased to include. Last year we also had the chance to be exhibit booth neighbors with Steve Shunk, author of Peterson’s Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. Steve will be our headline keynote speaker on Friday evening, and then we’ll end the festival with popcorn and a movie, “The Big Year,” hosted by Greg Miller on Saturday night. The Great Outdoors RV Resort has graciously offered to host our opening Keynote Speaker, Wildside Nature Tours’ Catherine Hamilton on Wednesday night, and George Armistead with Rockjumper Worldwide Tours Birding Adventures will be the Keynote Speaker for Tour Operator Thursday Night. Please be sure to also check out the Spotlight Speakers and the great workshops hosted by some of the biggest names in the birding community.
Due to the success of the Space Coast Family Wildlife Adventure Day, we have decided to include this as a regular feature of the festival. This event focuses on bringing local families to the festival with activities and events geared for children along with families and friends. This year’s event will include painting, nature journaling and playing Bird Detective just to name a few of the events taking place on Saturday, January 25th.
With heartfelt thanks from the support staff, our awesome volunteers, and the Brevard Nature Alliance Board of Directors, we look forward to seeing you in January!
Barb Eager and Laurilee Thompson