Annual Crane Festival flies into Monte Vista

Photos by Brian Williams Sandhill cranes drew hundreds of people to the viewing areas of the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge during the Monte Vista Crane Festival on March 11-13. Contributed photos The Monte Vista Crane Festival Craft and Nature Fair drew crowds to the Outcalt Event and Conference Center at SLV Ski Hi Complex on Friday and Saturday.

MONTE VISTA — The 39th annual Monte Vista Crane Festival was held on March 11-13.  

For hundreds of years, Sandhill cranes have gathered in large numbers at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge as part of their annual migration. Hundreds of people come from all over for their chance to capture pictures, and glimpses of the exquisite cranes that grace the San Luis Valley with their presence.

The annual Crane festival is a celebration of the birds.  

This year’s event was even more unique than prior years as it was a mixture of free in-person meetups at the refuge and online video presentations from experts.

The festival also featured free recorded presentations that will be available for viewing through March 20. The videos provide viewers with tons of informative facts about the cranes and wildlife, and many facts about wildlife areas in the San Luis Valley.

The other part of the festival is the Craft and Nature Fair. This year it was held inside the new Outcalt Event and Conference Center at SLV Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista.

Resident Tim Salazar was impressed with the new building.

“Wow, this new center is really big," Salazar said. "I come to this event every year and this year it just looks so much bigger in the new building. I also plan on driving out to see the cranes. It’s a darn shame they don’t have the bus tours they used to have, but the drive will be nice. This event is really good for the Valley; you see people from everywhere down here.” 

Vendors lined the inside of the new event center on Friday and Saturday offering for purchase homemade goods, tasty treats, and services.

The Craft and Nature Fair was also different this year in that it included vendors from the annual Home and Garden Expo that usually happens in April.

On Saturday morning, Kids Connection hosted a pancake breakfast that included pancakes, of course, and biscuits and gravy, and the choice of coffee or orange juice.  

Youngster Kristy Meza was at the craft fair, with her parents Lawrence and Danielle Meza. When asked what she liked about the festival Kristy said, “It’s fun to see the cranes, they splash water everywhere.”  

For more information on the Monte Vista Crane Festival, visit the website at mvcranefest.org.

Photos by Brian Williams Sandhill cranes drew hundreds of people to the viewing areas of the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge during the Monte Vista Crane Festival on March 11-13. Contributed photos The Monte Vista Crane Festival Craft and Nature Fair drew crowds to the Outcalt Event and Conference Center at SLV Ski Hi Complex on Friday and Saturday.

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