The Little Owl Music and Arts Festival showcases Audubon Acres
Everyone with an arts bone in their body will be at 4 Bridges this weekend. But next weekend features another festival you’ll want on your calendar—one of our area’s best yearly events for families, bird enthusiasts, and supporters of the arts—the fourth annual Little Owl Music and Arts Festival.
The event will be held Saturday, April 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Audubon Acres, Chattanooga’s oldest wildlife sanctuary. This beautiful 130-acre piece of land has over five miles of walking and hiking trails, and is home to four species of owls and numerous other kinds of birds.
Visitors to Audubon Acres have heard, and occasionally seen, barred owls, particularly on the trails near South Chickamauga Creek. This is typical habitat for the species. Other owls that can be sighted in the area include the Great Horned owl and the screech owl. (Barn owls are possible, but less likely.)
Last year’s event featured an appearance by Roy Harper of Manchester, Tennessee. Mr. Harper was 89 years old at the time and had a number of life stories to tell. He went to work on the railroad straight out of high school, but played folk/rock professionally as time permitted. In 1986, he represented Tennessee in Washington D.C. for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
This year, the master of ceremonies for Little Owl is Michael Gray, host of the River City Sessions, a concert series presented on the second Friday of every month at The Camp House. Little Owl Festival attendees can expect a wide variety of entertainment, including music, storytelling, and exhibits of arts and crafts. There will also be a clothesline show of student art, the result of a poster contest whose winner will be announced at the festival.
Festival organizer Ray Zimmerman tells us, “The works of art submitted in the student art contest are always a joy. Every year, I am astounded by the creativity and quality of the work.” He is personally inspired by nature, saying, “I wrote the poem ‘Reincarnation’ as I sat on the banks of South Chickamauga Creek, at Audubon Acres, years ago. I saw a vulture land in an oak, and thought of the desert naturalist Edward Abbey, who always said he would come back as a vulture, because ‘it just seemed fitting.’ The poem is in my first book, and I appear reading it in a YouTube video.”
Zimmerman adds, “Audubon Acres is a beautiful outdoor venue, and this festival is a great way to enjoy it. The acts on the stage begin with puppetry and storytelling for children. The rest of the day is devoted to folk and country music. Aside from the stage, we have a pioneer living activity at the historic cabin, a longhunter encampment demonstration, a birds of prey exhibit, local craft vendors and food vendors, and the exhibit of art from the student art contest. We also thank Parkridge Medical Group for sponsoring the festival.”
Audubon Acres remains a hidden treasure, with many long-time city residents having never visited it, but the Chattanooga Audubon Society was founded in 1944 by author and naturalist Robert Sparks Walker.
The mission statement: “To educate and promote an understanding of the responsibility to preserve and protect our environmental, cultural, and historical resources through programming and stewardship.” Pretty far thinking for 1944! The Little Owl Festival is a great chance to enjoy the gorgeous Tennessee Valley countryside and to support an important nonprofit.
11 - 11:30 a.m. Sarah Lord, Storytelling and Puppetry for Children
11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Robin Burk
12:20 - 12:45 p.m. Awards ceremony
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Jeff and Marcy Paulson
1:45 - 2:15 p.m. The Peggy Douglas Trio
2:30 - 3:00 p.m. Nina Ricci
3:15 - 3:45 p.m. Nancy Seiters
4:00 - 4:30 p.m. The Driftless
4:45 - 5:15 p.m. Organized Kaos - Joe Ridolfo and Friends
Audubon Acres is located at 900 N. Sanctuary Rd., Chattanooga 37421. Admission to the festival is $7 individual, $15 carload.
For more information about the Little Owl Music and Arts Festival, visit chattanoogaaudubon.org/little-owl-music--arts-festival.html