Looking for an outdoor getaway Saturday with the kids? There are two outdoor festivals in the western part of the state with lots of stuff for kids to do and Apache is holdings its annual Rattlesnake Festival.
Birding and Heritage Festival
The annual Cherokee Birding and Heritage Festival will be Friday and Saturday in Alfalfa County in northwest Oklahoma. The event features activities in multiple locations.
The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge near Jet is hosting its annual Birding and Crystal Festival and serves as a rendezvous point for the Birding and Heritage Festival.
Activities at the refuge will range from archery and casting contests to crystal digging contests, birding tours and much more. The refuge’s visitor center will be open all weekend, featuring a number of crystal exhibits detailing this unique natural gem in northwest Oklahoma.
Other activities include star-gazing, nature tours, wildlife photography, trapshooting, reptile rehabilitation with live snakes and lizards and bird watching around the refuge.
Learn about the lesser prairie chicken at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Byron Watchable Wildlife Area, which is located north of the refuge. (From the junctions of SH 38 and 11, go two miles north and turn west at the first intersection.)
Visitors can go on a prairie chicken scavenger hunt and have the opportunity to make a bluebird house to take home with them. In the evening, they can look for bats with Alabaster Caverns State Park and listen to their echolocation around the nature center.
For more information about the festival, call (580) 626-4794.
Washita Wildlife Refuge turns 50
The Washita National Wildlife Refuge in western Oklahoma’s Custer County turns 50 on Friday, but the birthday party is Saturday.
The refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was created April 15, 1961, as a feeding and resting area for migratory waterfowl in the Central Flyway.
Located on the upper end of Foss Lake between Butler and Hammon, the refuge is celebrating the 50th anniversary beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday with a huge open house.
Kids can take a guided birding tour, shoot a bow an arrow, go on a scavenger hunt, learn to identify animal tracks, operate a real wildland firefighting hose, and learn about wildlife through interactive iPad games and hands-on booths.
The event is free and hats, pins, magnets and other free items will be provided for everyone in attendance. The open house lasts until 3 p.m.
For more information, call the refuge at (580) 664-2205.
If you are looking for something a little different, the town of Apache in southwest Oklahoma is holding its 25th annual Rattlesnake Festival this weekend.
Prizes will be awarded for the most and largest rattlesnakes captured during the hunts, and a snake pit with live snakes and snake handlers will be showcased.
The festival has a flea market and carnival and begins today (April 14) and continues through Sunday. Call (580) 588-2880 for more information.
Mangum’s annual Rattlesnake Derby will be April 29-May 1 while the oldest rattlesnake festival in the state is in Okeene, which will hold its Rattlesnake Round-up May 6-8.