Another year of festivities has come to end as the Trumpeter Swans are settling in to their winter home in the Cowichan Valley and I think it is safe to say that this year's WildWings Festival was a community success.
Volunteer Meg Loop at Festival Launch, Photo: Elizabeth Bailey
Events this year included a Festival Launch party at the ever-hopping Craig St Brew Pub where folks got a harmonic earfull from talented local gal band Pixelle, mouthfulls of WildWings I.P.A and brains full of Somenos Marsh trivia. The evening featured the unveiling of this year's Artist of the Somenos Glenn Spicer's gorgeous Trumpeter Swan stained glass piece to be on display in Just Jakes from now on.
This year's WildWings Art Exhibition and Live Auction was held at Just Jake's Restaurant and coincided with the Duncan Business Improvement Area Society's Under the Red Umbrella art walk. Many beautiful nature-inspired pieces were on display and some amazing auction items went that night. It was a classy affair featuring grey-goose martinis and the musical stylings of local jazz trio Connor Stewart, John Wade and Eric Smith.
Celebrate Somenos, the open house day at the marsh, was WET! It rained...a lot. However that didn't stop the most faithful of marsh lovers from braving the rains and coming out to experience tours, talks and birding events at the Somenos Marsh boardwalk, Cowichan Bay viewing tower and Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area. Volunteers and visitors were kept warm with a steaming supply of endless hot chocolate.
Enjoying a pint of WildWings I.P.A. Photo: Elizabeth Bailey
Longtime weaver Maria Curtis hosted an Invasive Species Weaving Workshop at the Cowichan Green Community board room. Participants created beautiful baskets made of dried scotch broom and yellow flag iris, both exotic plants that are invading natural ecosystems in the marsh.
The crown jewel of this year's festival was the grand finale concert at the Cowichan Theatre, Voices of Nature. It was the product of the hard work and dedication of the Artist Response Team (Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds band) and the students of Alexander School. The group took the stage and wowed the audience with their lively energy, inspiring ecology based songs, and pure talent. It was a community building evening as many of the school families belong to Cowichan Tribes and the concert was opened by honoured guest Chief Seymour. The school is also situated adjacent to the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area so the messages about protecting the marsh were especially poignant. There are hopes of making the event a regular part of WildWings Festival so keep your eyes and ears open for next year's concert!
A visitor from the Raptor's Centre at Celebrate Somenos, Photo: Paul Fletcher
Many thanks go out to all the generous community members who made WildWings Festival 2014 a great success. Notably we'd like to thank: The Gosling Foundation, the Craig St. Brew Pub, Just Jake's Restaurant, Glenn Spicer, Pixelle, the Garage Community Farm Store, Connor Stewart, John Wade, Eric Smith, Excellent Frameworks, Genevieve Singleton, Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre, the Raptors, Barry Hetschko, Canada World Youth, Maria Curtis, Cowichan Green Community, Cowichan Tribes, Chief Seymour, Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds, Alexander School, Tire Stewardship BC, SMWS board members, volunteers, and supporters who are all generous supporters of WildWings Festival and the Somenos Marsh.