By Lora Scripps
ATHENS — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was one of many sites across the nation that felt the effects of the recent government shutdown. Along with the site being shutdown, the closing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also caused refuge’s 75th anniversary Celebration originally set for Oct. 5 to be cancelled.
However, festival organizers said the celebration has been rescheduled to Dec. 7.
The celebration, hosted by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association, is planned to commemorate the established of the Refuge and to highlight the refuge’s history and success as a natural resource management demonstration project. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, established 75 years ago, serves as a home to what some have called “the United States most precious wildlife resources.”
The 75th anniversary will include bird banding, arrowhead making, hot air balloon tethered rides (weather permitting), archery, a corn maze and hay rides.
The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Dec. 7. Plans are to provide festivalgoers with multiple opportunities for natural resource exploration through demonstrations and hands-on activities.
• Alabama 4-H Center will have two presentations of “Raptor Trek!” a live bird of prey program featuring free flying owls, hawks and a bald eagle. Show times are 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
• Larry and Cheryl Battson, founders of Wildlife Educational Services, will present their live wildlife program in three scheduled programs at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Battsons have worked with Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.” Their animals have appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah” and the “Today Show.”
• The Teddy Roosevelt Show featuring Joe Wiegand also plans to entertain audiences at the event. Joe Wiegand will give his reprisal of President Theodore Roosevelt through a one-man theater show. Wiegand will share stories of adventure, laughter and inspiration at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Additional activities include a Castingkids Contest, sponsored by Bassmasters of North Alabama, and Jakes Take Aim target shooting and firearm safety, sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The event is free to the public. Concessions will be available for purchase.
The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is located at 3121 Visitor Center Road in Decatur. For more information, visit www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.org.