Skagit Eagle Festival 2012
By Valerie Stafford and Anne Bussiere
The raptors have returned.
Concrete Chamber of Commerce presents the 2012 Skagit Eagle Festival beginning Jan. 7 and continuing every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month.
This is the second year the Concrete Chamber has hosted the event in its new four-weekend format, offering a wide range of recreation, education, and entertainment options that celebrate the annual return of the eagles to the Skagit River Valley.
According to Valerie Stafford, president of the Concrete Chamber of Commerce, the expanded format offers more variety, convenience, and flexibility for visitors, who can choose among dozens of activi-ties in Concrete, Rockport, Marblemount, and beyond during each of the four weekends.
“Visitors can select the activities they’re most interested in and design their own personalized experience,” said Stafford. “With numerous smaller venues offering indoor and outdoor activities throughout the month, this has become a very diverse and dynamic celebration.”
A mainstay of activities is offered every Saturday and Sunday, including eagle-watching stations provided by the U.S. Forest Service and staffed by specially trained volunteers, river rafting and float trips available from several companies, fish hatchery tours where visitors learn about the salmon that attract the eagles to the area each year, and wine tastings and related events offered at local vineyards.
The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center and Nature Store in Rockport is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., providing guided walks and lectures, as well as cultural and historical information about eagles, the Skagit River Valley, and surrounding area.
Other activities are offered only on Saturdays, including free hayrides at a historic family-owned ranch and free admission to the Concrete Heritage Museum, where the history of the Upper Skagit Valley is on display, with a focus on the logging and cement industries.
Throughout the month, numerous one-time special events are planned, including photography workshops and wildlife presentations at the historic Concrete Theatre, Native American dancing, drumming and crafts at the Marblemount Community Hall, as well as book and bake sales, a fundraising chili feed, and the Grasmere Village Art Walk and Recycled Art Show.
The Art Walk and Art Show are slated for Jan. 21 and 22, at the Grasmere Village mall just west of Concrete. Show rules are simple: All entries must be composed of at least 60 percent recycled or repurposed materials. The result can be a picture, sculpture, decorative item or something useful like a purse made from a dog food bag.
Entry forms and rules are available at Annie’s Pizza Station or Northwest Garden Bling (both located in Grasmere Village), or by e-mailing email@example.com. There is no entry fee. Deadline for turning in the forms to either business is Jan. 18; art pieces should be brought to the show between 9 and 10 a.m. on Jan. 21. For more information, call 360.708.3279.
New this year is Puget Sound Energy Day in Concrete on Sat., Jan. 21, during which the utility company will offer presentations and performances at its facility, and help to sponsor special events at the Concrete Theatre, as well as other locations in the community.
The first eagle festival was held in 1987. It continued each winter for 22 years as a one- or two-day event, sponsored by a group of dedicated volunteers. In 2010, the event was cancelled because of a lack of funding, but was brought back to life by the Concrete Chamber of Commerce in 2011. The newly designed celebration is a collaboration of dozens of agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in eastern Skagit County, who invite visitors from all over the region to experience the natural beauty of the area and enjoy the friendly, small-town environment.
The event is funded by sponsorships, donations, and a grant from the Skagit County Lodging Tax Fund.
For more information about the event, including free maps and brochures, visit the Skagit Eagle Festival Information Center, located in the Concrete Center at 45821 Railroad Ave., adjacent to State Route 20 in Concrete. The center will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in January. Rotating displays, vendors, and the Skagit Eagle Festival raffle will be featured onsite each weekend. Coffee, snacks, and restrooms also are available.
Event information also can be obtained online at www.skagiteaglefestival.com or by calling the Concrete Chamber of Commerce at 360.853.8784, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
SKAGIT EAGLE FESTIVAL
Every weekend in January, beginning Jan. 7–8
Various locations in Concrete, Rockport, and Marblemount
Information Center in Concrete Center, 45821 Railroad Ave., Concrete (adjacent to SR 20)
Concrete Chamber of Commerce:
360.853.8784 (M-F, 9 to 3)