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Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival 2015

Whether you’re an avid birder or you’ve never seen a Sandhill Crane before, the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival represents an extraordinary opportunity to witness a natural phenomenon that is truly unforgettable.

January 17-18, 2015- Birchwood, TNSandhill Cranes

NASHVILLE --- The 24th edition of the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is set to be held Jan. 17-18 at the Hiwassee Refuge and at the Birchwood Community Center.

The TWRA is the primary sponsor for the festival and many staff members and volunteers will again be contributing their services. For the fourth consecutive year, Olin Chlor Alkali Products is the corporate sponsor for the festival. The festival is a celebration of the thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate through or spend the winter on and around the Hiwassee Refuge in Birchwood as well as an opportunity to focus attention on the rich wildlife heritage of the state and the Native American history of the area.

Region III Wildlife Program Manager Kirk Miles is serving as this year’s coordinator for the event. “We are looking forward to another great weekend and hopefully the weather will cooperate and the cranes will be out in good numbers,” Miles said. “There are a lot of activities for people to enjoy throughout the day as well.”

Beginning in the early 1990s, the recovering population of eastern sandhill cranes began stopping at the Hiwassee Refuge on their way to and from their wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida. TWRA has been managing this refuge for more than 60 years for waterfowl, and the cranes found a perfect combination of feeding and shallow water roosting habitat. As many as an estimated 12,000 of these birds now spend the entire winter at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers.

The festival will run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. (EST) each day. Free bus shuttle service will be available from the Birchwood Community Center to the Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Removal Memorial Park each day. No public parking is available at the refuge.

Various vendors will be at the Birchwood Community Center. In addition, breakfast will be available for purchase at the community center each day from 7-8 a.m. and lunch will be available from 11:30-a.m. until 3 p.m.

Music, special programs, and children’s activities will be ongoing throughout each day. The American Eagle Foundation will be present for its always-popular live raptor show each day at 2 p.m. There will be a new presentation this year, Archeology in the 21st Century: A New Look at Hiwassee Island which will be held Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.

Erick Baker, host of the new television program, Tennessee Uncharted, will be a first time musical performer at the event on Saturday from noon to 12:45 p.m. An official welcome and live music will start the programs each day at 11 a.m. Traditional heritage music will be played from 3-4 p.m. each day.

The nearby Cherokee Removal Memorial will feature Native American folklore specialists. They will present performances, artifacts and objects used in everyday life by Native American inhabitants in the Hiwassee River area.

Along with the wildlife viewing at the refuge, wildlife and birding experts will be on hand. They will provide visitors with a unique educational experience by sharing viewing scopes and information.

The Hiwassee Refuge comprises about 6,000 acres. The Birchwood Community Center is only three miles from the wildlife-viewing site at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. The Cherokee Removal Memorial is found just to the side of the refuge near the Tennessee River.

Other Sandhill Crane Festival partners include the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Tennessee Ornithological Society, Birchwood Area Society Improvement Council, Cherokee Removal Memorial Park, Cleveland State Community College, American Eagle Foundation, Chattanooga Chapter TOS, Meigs County Tourism, and Rhea County Tourism.

Olin TWF BASIC LogoTOS Logo

Event Schedule

3 Sandhill CranesBirchwood Community Center
(formerly, Birchwood School)


TENTATIVE - SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Saturday, January 17, 2015

  • 7:00 AM - Doors open for breakfast
  • 8:00 AM - Vendor area (Gym) opens and first shuttle
    buses run to Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Memorial
  • 11:00 AM - Official Welcome and music program (featuring Nashville recording artist Don King and Friends)
    Kids Music Appreciation Program- Local traditional artist, Tom Morgan
  • 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM - Lunch available in Cafeteria
  • 12:00 AM - 12:45 PM - Live music by Erick Baker, host of Tennessee Uncharted
  • 1:00 p.m. - Shawn Patch, Archaeologist, New South Associates, Erin Pritchard, Archaelogical Specialist, TVA Archaeology in the 21st Century:
    A New Look at Hiwassee Island
  • 2:00 PM - American Eagle Foundation, Live Raptor Show
  • 3:00 - 4:00 PM - Traditional Heritage Music, Tom Morgan, Lynn Haas with friends


Sunday, January 18, 2015

  • 7:00 AM - Doors open for breakfast
  • 8:00 AM - Vendor area (Gym) opens and first shuttle buses run to Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Memorial
  • 11:00 AM - Official Welcome and music program (featuring Nashville recording artist Don King and Friends)
    Kids Music Appreciation Program- Local traditional artist, Tom Morgan
  • 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM - Lunch available in Cafeteria
  • 1:00 PM -
  • 2:00 PM - American Eagle Foundation, Live Raptor Show
  • 3: 00 - 4:00PM - Traditional Heritage Music, Tom Morgan, Lynn Haas with friends (Don King)


Other Information

  • Park at Birchwood Community Center. Shuttles will be provided to the Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Removal Memorial Park both days.
  • Native American artifacts and interpreters will be at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park both days.
  • A Children's Arts and Craft booth will operate during the Festival at the Birchwood Community Center
  • Food will be available in the Birchwood Community Center both days
  • TWRA Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge - All day both days - Sandhill Crane and wildlife viewing interpretation and viewing scopes provided by TOS and TWRA Staff

Become A Vendor

Please plan on joining us for Tennessee’s premier wildlife extravaganza!

We would like to invite you to be a vendor participant at the festival. The fee will be $25 for Saturday, or a total of $40 to display on both days.  If you are interested, please notify us as soon as possible.

Download the vendor application

Festival Committee

Kirk Miles, Festival Coordinator
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
(931) 484-9571 office
Kirk.Miles@tn.gov

Linda Wright, Food & Beverage Coordinator
Nancy Williams, Cherokee Memorial Park
Sylvia Beavers, Vendor Coordinator
Jason Jackson, TWRA Hiwassee Manager
Tom Morgan, Music Coordinator