Webster County Conservation is offering nature lovers the opportunity to get outdoors and help the environment with the second annual Spring Park Festival Saturday.
The all-day event will offer activities at both Brushy Creek and John F. Kennedy Memorial parks, including a geocaching trash pick-up, nest box building and Maple Syrup Festival. The day will begin with the Cache In, Trash Out event at Brushy Creek from 9 a.m. to noon. The CITO hike will give treasure hunters the chance to use GPS coordinates to find hidden treasure while picking up trash in the park along the way. Participants do not need to own a GPS to participate.
"We can provide the equipment, or the coordinates can easily be transferred onto your own GPS," said Karen Hansen, a naturalist with Webster County Conservation.
-Messenger file photo
Liam Trimble, then 3, of Fort Dodge, goes for the last piece of sausage while sampling pancakes with real maple syrup from trees in John F. Kennedy Park during the annual Maple Syrup Festival in 2010. This year’s event will be held Saturday.
At 10 a.m., the Garlic Mustard Massacre will begin with a lesson on what participants should look for and what type of plant they should dig up.
"We'll be hiking into the woods to pull the garlic mustard," said Hansen. "It's an invasive species that can take over; we want to keep as much of the natural environment as possible. The goal is to enhance the natural habitat."
Afternoon activities will move to the Heun Shelter at Kennedy Park for nest box building at 3 p.m.. A variety of nest boxes will be available to build at a cost ranging from $8 to $23 per box.
"Everyone who builds a box will be able to take one home," said Hansen. "It's a good activity for families and kids."
Only the nest box activity requires pre-registration. To register, call Webster County Conservation at 576-4258.
Evening activities will include the Maple Syrup Festival, featuring a pancake feed with homemade syrup tapped from trees at the park. There will be syrup-making demonstrations by conservation staff and the Iowa State University Mobile Sugar House will also be on hand for demonstrations. The pancake feed includes all-you-can-eat pancakes for a freewill donation.
In past years, the syrup festival has always been a popular event.
"Over the years we've averaged around 150 people just for the pancakes," said Hansen.
If conditions and weather permit, a prairie night burn will be held at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the evening.
"It's always very popular when we can have it," Hansen said. "People love to come out and watch the fire."
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org