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Tamarac Fall Festival set for Oct. 1; waterfowl themes abound

October is almost here, which means that staff and volunteers at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge are in the final stages of preparation for the Refuge's annual Fall Festival.

The celebration gets underway Saturday, Oct. 1 at 10 a.m., and continues well into the afternoon, with most activities wrapping up by 3 p.m.

"We're at three locations this year," says Sue Braun, who is chairing this year's festival as a volunteer with the Friends of Tamarac. "We'll have activities at the Discovery Center, Visitor Center, and the historic cabin site."

The Friends sponsor the annual festival, which showcases the beauty of Tamarac and offers a plethora of fun and educational activities for the whole family.

"This year's theme is 'The Duck Stops Here,'" says Braun, noting that the name is a riff on the fact that the 2016 federal "duck stamp"—as the U.S. Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is most commonly known—doesn't actually feature a duck, but a trumpeter swan.

Nevertheless, ducks in all their glory are the focus of many activities at this year's fall festival, where there will be duck calling, duck carving and duck banding demonstrations; a duck identification contest; a (self-guided) Duck Stamp Trail hike and a "Duckumentary" film screening, just to name a few.

"Families can also take the Duck Stamp Challenge," Braun said, noting that a variety of educational activity stations will be set up at all three festival sites for families to go, learn more about ducks and other wildlife that make their home on the Refuge, and get their registration card filled with duck stamps; those who get their cards filled will be eligible for a prize to take home as a souvenir.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., though an "early bird" Refuge tour departs from the historic cabin site at 9 a.m., with additional tours set to leave at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes.

There will be Duck Banding Rocket Net Blasts at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., as well as a "Saving Wetlands" puppet show at 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon, featuring puppeteers Janet Bridgers and Rick Pechmann; and duck calling demonstrations by Casey Bachmann at 11:30 am. and 1:30 p.m. All of these take place at the historic cabin site; there will also be a screening of the movie "Duckumentary" at the Visitor's Center theater at 2 p.m.

Inside the Visitor Center, there will be a wild rice soup tasting station, while back over at the cabin site, volunteers will be serving up lunch items including brats, chips, cookies and beverages.

Outside the historic cabins themselves, staff and volunteers from the Becker County Historical Society will share information about early settlers and showcase vintage U.S. postage stamps.

Over at the Discovery Center, there will be displays featuring entries in the 2016 Tamarac Photo Contest as well as demonstrations by duck carving artist Red Spadgenske, who will be hard at work creating one of his beautiful wildlife sculptures.

For those who like to connect more directly with nature, the Duck Stamp Trail will take visitors to a scenic marsh overlook (time is approximately 30 minutes), while the new Bear Paw Trail will allow them to explore a more wooded path to and from the Visitor Center.

Best of all, this family friendly festival won't put a drain on your finances.

"Except for the lunch, everything is free," Braun said.

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is located north of Rochert, near the intersection of Becker County Highways 26 and 29. To learn more, or to arrange special accommodations for those in need of them, please contact the Tamarac Visitor Center at 218-847-2641. More information is also available online at www.tamaracfriends.org.

Also next weekend

Hunting enthusiasts, take note: The Detroit Lakes Eagles Club will be hosting its first-ever Crow Hunt on Saturday, Oct. 1.

"We wanted to try something a little different, just to have some fun and raise money for our local charities," says Eagles President Earl Skogen.

Hunting crows was chosen for this activity because the birds have become so prevalent in the area that they have become something of a nuisance, "eating crops, getting into people's garbage, things like that," he added.

Participants are asked to stop by the Eagles Club at 112 W. Holmes St. in Detroit Lakes between 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30 to register and learn about the rules for participating in the hunt.

The cost to participate is $30 for a three-person team. Sixty percent of the proceeds will be paid out to the top three finishers, with the remaining funds going back to the club to use for supporting various local charitable causes.

For more information, please call the Eagles Club at 218-847-5267, or direct emails to eaglescrowhunt@gmail.com.

Also next weekend, the Frazee Community Club's 20th annual Oktoberfest is set for Sunday, Oct. 2 from 12 to 8 p.m. This celebration of the area's German heritage will feature both German and American food, a cash bar, and entertainment by both the Leon Olsen Band and Jerry & Joyce Band, who will take turns playing one-hour sets throughout the afternoon and evening.

Oktoberfest is held at the Frazee Event Center, 114 Lake St. NE, Frazee. Admission is $12. For more information, call Betty at 218-334-2401 or 800-407-2488.

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