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CoastFest Celebrates 20th Year of Educational Family Festivities

Oct 2 2014

by Anna Ferguson Hall

Coming back into her office on a recent morning, Nancy Butler was a bit winded. Her hair had been afflicted by the breezy outdoors conditions, but overall, she was feeling good about the progress her team made in the early work hours.

“We just got back in from making final touches and doing the road clean-up,” she said. “It was a great day for it. A breeze, no bugs. I think we’re ready, or at least, very close.”

Butler and crew had been hard at work cleaning up the area around theDepartment of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, headquarters, located adjacent to the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick. They laid down pine straw, picked up litter and worked to ensure the property would be in mint condition for CoastFest, being held this Saturday at headquarters.

Now in its 20th year, CoastFest is the annual celebration of all things Coastal Georgia. And this year, the educational festival will be bigger than ever, with new exhibits, entertainers and vendors set up throughout the day-long event.

“We are really going all out this year to celebrate the anniversary,” said Butler, CoastFest Coordinator at the DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. “In every sense, we have something for guests of all ages. From the time you cross the (Sidney Lanier) bridge, you’ll find fun and excitement.”

New this year at the free festival is a walk-in, interactive butterfly exhibit, in which children and their families can interact with free-flying butterflies. Also new this year is a hands-on kayak exhibit, through which new kayakers can learn the tricks of the water-based hobby.

“This is not just a chance to see and feel a kayak,” Butler said, adding that she and her team have set up two large pond on the headquarters property for the kayak demonstration, so visitors can get on the water and learn how to maneuver a kayak under the safe watch of experienced guides. “If you’ve never been in a kayak, this is a great opportunity to learn what it feels like.”

A live stage will likewise be playing throughout the day, with local favorite the MarshGrass Band, performing. Of course, Georgia DNR biologists will also be at the ready to present the life and ways of animals in the 21st century.

“If you want to be all in with all hands on deck to explore, you certainly have the opportunity. But if you just want to sit and listen to music, well, you can do that, too,” she said. “This is not just a science event. Anyone curious about coastal Georgia, its make-up and its environment will find something here.”

Professional story-teller Barry Stewart Mann will also take on audiences for a spin with his wide variety of legends and educational stories.

“Our professional storyteller has so many great tales to tell,” Butler said. “From the life of fiddler crabs, to a story about a rain drop traveling from the mountains to the sea, these stories are fabulous, creative and very engaging.”

Under the Show Tents visitors will be entertained with fast-paced magic tricks by magician Arthur Atsma, as well as an all-new show from Jugglemania artist Rhys Thomas. Butler, too, is excited that the docks of the DNR will be open to the public for up-close glimpses of DNR research vessels, the Law Enforcement SAFE boat and U.S. Coast Guard boats.

History buffs, take note:CoastFest-favorite Jim Sawgrass and his family will be on hand to highlight Native American customs and folklore, and guests should be sure to stop by the historic village with military re-enactors from the 1700s through the 1800s. Interested in the bow and arrow? Yes, the festival has that covered, too, as there will be a supervised display to allow all guests to try their hand at archery.

“As you can tell, there really is something for everyone in the family,” Butler said. “We have been planning this event for more than a year and it has all come together flawlessly. I am so excited to see families out there, learning about the world around us and soaking up all coastal Georgia has to offer. It’s going to be a very memorable day.”

CoastFestwill be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division headquarters, adjacent to the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick. Admission to the festival free. For more information, visit coastalgadnr.org.

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