Bluebell Festival a Hit!

This year’s annual Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farm (and my first) on April 15, turned out to be a great experience even though the famous bluebells were past their peak due to the unseasonably warm weather. As such, there was a greater focus on wildlife and history.

Several hundred participants, including many families with children, arrived in a steady stream throughout the day. Once greeters mentioned that Alvin the albino corn snake was available for petting, the children made a direct beeline for his enclosure.

“I got to hold him. He’s cool!” said 7-year-old Jason. Dad nodded in agreement, but Mom wasn’t so enthusiastic.

PWCA provided a live animal display of aquatic and other critters, including a five-lined skink, some very fat bullfrog tadpoles, cricket frogs and a very friendly and active box turtle that mesmerized the children. Co-sponsor, Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries had a popular display of animal pelts and skulls. Lisa Matthews of the Broadlands Nature Center (Ashburn, VA) brought Alvin (mentioned above).

NatureBridge, whose mission is to connect youth to the natural world, conducted a hands-on, interactive hike exploring of Merrimac’s habitats and wildlife. Hikers were provided field microscopes and other tools for a closer look at what fascinated them.

Other displays were set up by the Prince William Wildflower Society, Friends of Potomac River Refuges, and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. The Historic Prince William group was selling maps and books about local history.

There was a Nature Art Show featuring local artists and photographers Scott Bush, Julia Flanagan, Ernie Sears, Steve Tabone, and James Gallagher.

There were hikes for photographers, hikes to discover the best places to find birds and butterflies, and hikes to identify native plants – in other words, something for everyone!

We had a bright, sunny day for the festival, although a frisky breeze played havoc with our tabletop signs. With all of the human activity, there wasn’t a lot of spontaneous nature making itself obvious to us, but we did see a shiny 4-foot long black snake in the morning and again in the afternoon. There were also titanium-colored skinks climbing trees and five-line skinks sunning themselves in the front flowerbed.

The conservation landscape project behind the stone house is showing its spring colors, with pink dogwoods just finishing blooming, and trillium, columbine, and tiny iris in bloom. If any of you out there like to pull weeds, the garden needs you!

At the very end of the day, Kim Hosen, et al., held the drawing for the rain barrel painted by local artist and PWCA member Jim Gallagher. Kathy Madsen was the lucky winner.

For more information about PWCA events, go here.



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