It’s almost time for a weekend of springtime fun!
Free, family friendly, outdoor activities for all ages are being offered rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 12th Annual Step Outdoors Springfest on Saturday, May 19 at Hills Creek State Park at 111 Spillway Road in Charleston Township, seven miles northeast of Wellsboro.
At 8 a.m., Saturday morning, Tiadaghton Audubon Society members Rich Hanlon and Rich Faber will lead a bird walk at the park just before Springfest gets underway. The May 19 walk is free and open to anyone who wants to go. The pace will be slow and cover a limited distance to provide an opportunity to see the many varieties of water and woodland birds that live in or migrate through the park. The trails are easy and relatively level. The spring migration is in full swing. Walkers will see many colorful birds, such as Baltimore orioles, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and a variety of wood warblers. The walk can last two hours depending on how many birds are seen. Bring binoculars and cameras. Wear dark clothing and waterproof or water-resistant footwear. Meet at 7:55 a.m. at the Hills Creek State Park office at 111 Spillway Road Wellsboro.
Try stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, and canoeing available all day, all for free, with basic instruction provided by the Mansfield University Kayak Club members, other volunteers and park staff. See the end of this article for adaptive kayaking equipment information.
Fishing poles, bait and lures will be provided free to those who want to learn basic fishing skills in Hills Creek Lake. Fishing licenses are required for anyone 16 and older. Youth can experience fishing on the lake with help from park staff.
Stop by the Game Commission table to learn about Pennsylvania’s wildlife and how to identify their tracks. Participants will have an opportunity to color their own plaster track to take home.
At the Tiadaghton Audubon Society table, youngsters will be able to dissect owl pellets to see if they can figure out what owls eat. Small rodents, birds and bugs are part of an owl’s nightly diet. Since its stomach cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth, feathers and insect shells, these “extra” parts are formed into a pellet inside the owl that the owl will later spit up.
The Bureau of Forestry will have a display of native and invasive plants, free handouts on both and be available to talk to landowners about what to do to control them. Among the invasives are trees, such as the Tree of Heaven and vines, such as Japanese Knotweed, also known as Chinese Bamboo. Among invasive insects are the Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and a new one called the Spotted Lanternfly.
Anglers of all ages can learn how to tie a fly with Trout Unlimited Tiadaghton Chapter #688 volunteers. Fly tying materials and equipment will be provided free. Also available will be fly rods to practice casting at different distances and targets.
At 1 p.m., go on a guided three-mile, slow-paced easy hike around Hills Creek Lake with Daryl Warren.
The Mountain Modelaires R/C Airplane Club will have radio controlled airplanes, helicopters, and quadcopters on display and a radio-controlled flight simulator for children and adults to try. Children, eight and older, can assemble and decorate a foam model glider to take home. Members will be available to answer questions and will fly small electric helicopters and quadcopters, weather permitting.
At the craft station, Grand Canyon FFA members will assist youngsters in making seed paper creations to take home and plant as well as bee houses from tin cans to attract mason bees to a backyard garden. Mason bees are great pollinators and don’t sting.
Visit Potter-Tioga, the visitor’s bureau for Tioga and Potter counties, will be handing out free maps, brochures and visitors guides about things to see and do in the area from the tailgate of the bureau’s Ford Escape. The exterior of the SUV has been wrapped with “Explore the Possibilities By Day” with a view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on one side representing Tioga County and “By Night” with a view of the starry night sky representing Potter County on the other.
Unless there is a forest fire, Smokey Bear will be visiting Springfest with some great giveaways.
Children and adults are welcome to bring their bikes, wear helmets and ride at the park.
This year, the concession stand will NOT be open during the event. Bring a picnic lunch and eat at one of the nearby picnic pavilions or at one of the many tables throughout the area.
Idea/Concept: Tim Morey
Videography: Tim Crane
Video Editing: Tim Crane
Writing: Step Outdoors
Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by Penn Wells, Dunham’s Dept. Store