Eagle Fest a high-flying success as crowds flock to Reelfoot Lake

Eagle Fest a high-flying success as crowds flock to Reelfoot Lake

Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 9:05 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

Eagle Fest a high-flying success as crowds flock to Reelfoot Lake | Eagle Fest a high-flying success as crowds flock to Reelfoot Lake
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
They came from near and far for this past weekend’s 7th Annual Eagle Fest at Reelfoot Lake.
Although forecasts of wintry weather did have an impact on the crowds, it was still a good turnout, according to organizers of the event.
For Andrew and Katie Worrell of Union City, it was a good chance to take their 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, to the lake for an afternoon trip Saturday.
“We’ve come up a few times and walked the boardwalk,” Worrell said. “We just came up (today) to see what was going on. It’s pretty interesting. It’s a good thing they’ve got going on.”
During the weekend festival, wildlife artist Frank Baggett delivered and unveiled his massive painting — “Memories of Reelfoot Lake.” The four-foot-by-five-foot painting depicts a shoreline scene where a group of ducks is coming in for a landing near a canoe nestled in a cluster of reeds. An American Bald Eagle can be seen perched high up in a cypress tree in the background. (See related photo, Page 2.)
Baggett, from Waverly, has agreed to donate the impressive painting to the Reelfoot Lake Bicentennial Committee for use during the upcoming bicentennial celebration.
Also during the eagle festival, there were wildlife vendors set up at the Reelfoot Lake Visitors Center, a photography contest, eagle tours and a Saturday night program by John and Dale Stokes with the SOAR (Save Our American Raptors) program in north Georgia. The husband and wife team brought with them a kestrel, owls, a hawk, an American Bald Eagle and a black vulture and showed them off to a crowd of more than 200 Saturday night at the visitors center.
Eagle festival organizers said they were pleased with the turnout at this weekend’s event, but forecasts of wintry weather did have an impact on the number of visitors.
The weather forecast didn’t deter Ted and Mary Lou Millican of Nashville. They visited Reelfoot Lake Saturday for the first time and both said they would definitely be back in the spring for a follow-up visit.
“What a nice experience this has been,” Millican said as he was leaving the visitors center.
“It was just incredible,” he said as he talked about the 10 to 12 eagles he and his wife saw during their visit.
Paula and Early Morris made the trip to Reelfoot Lake from Germantown and she described their experience as “interesting.”
Mrs. Morris explained she and her husband started not to come because of the weather but she was glad they did.
“It’s wonderful,” she exclaimed Saturday afternoon.
The eagle festival featured a variety of events and activities for all ages, but many visitors simply ventured out on their own to check out the scenery and the wildlife.
Such was the case for friends Guy Jackson of Louisville, Ky., and Rodney Beck of Lawrenceburg, Ky., both of whom are avid photographers and discovered multiple photo opportunities.
“The main reason I wanted to come was for the snow geese … the eagles were just a bonus,” Beck said.
Both stayed around for the Saturday night raptor program at the visitors center. While being interviewed by The Messenger, they showed off some of their digital images of American Bald Eagles. They said while they were out trying to locate photographs of eagles, they also encountered raccoons, a skunk, owls and hawks.
“I’m definitely im-pressed,” Beck said as his friend nodded in agreement. “The people here have been very helpful and informative.”
Both men said they were really enjoying their trip to Reelfoot Lake and were using their visit as a scouting trip for a follow-up trip.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.7.11

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