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E-M:/ CraneFest '99


Contact:        Mike Boyce  (616) 763-3377 or 763-3090


Imagine a cool crisp afternoon amidst the splendor of autumn colors.  The stillness is interrupted by the eerie prehistoric cry of the cranes.  As the Sandhill Cranes glide into view, you are thrilled by the majesty of Michigan's largest bird.

CraneFest ‘99 will be Saturday and Sunday October 9 and 10 from noon to 7:00 PM in north central Calhoun County.  The Festival will be held at the Kiwanis Youth Area, 3.5 miles North of Cornwell’s Turkeyville, on 15 Mile Road between T Drive North and Junction Road.  A major attraction will be watching more than a thousand Sandhill Cranes return to the adjoining Baker Sanctuary.  The “Fly-In” typically begins slowing around 4 PM with best viewing of large numbers of cranes between 5 PM and dusk.  Admission and parking are free.

Nature and human artistic achievement come together at CraneFest '99, Michigan Audubon Society's fifth Annual Sandhill Crane and Art Festival. The works of some of the Midwest's best professional artists will be on display and for sale.  In addition to the art work, cranes, and the fall colors, the Festival features expert guided nature walks, nature photography workshops, crane origami, nature crafts, a large selection of nature and wildlife books, picnic areas and food concessions, hay rides and much more.  Merging with nature, the Festival takes place on the beautiful uplands, owned and operated by the Kiwanis Club of Battle Creek, which border Big Marsh Lake, a successful wetland restoration project initiated some 38 years ago.  With free admission, beautiful setting, and so much priced so reasonably, this is truly the place smart shoppers will look for those extra special holiday gifts and memorable family experiences.

More than 2,000 cranes are expected to greet CraneFest visitors again this year. With autumn color predicted to be near its peak the same weekend, everyone should consider making CraneFest ’99 part of their fall color tour.

The Festival was started to raise awareness and appreciation of our natural heritage and to support ongoing educational and conservation projects of the Michigan Audubon Society and Baker Sanctuary.

Sandhill Cranes are believed to be the oldest living bird species having existed for more than 9 million years in their present form.  The cranes are Michigan's largest bird measuring up to five feet tall with wings spanning an impressive six to seven feet.  Thousands of these majestic birds return annually to roost at Big Marsh Lake in Baker Sanctuary before completing their autumn migration to Florida.  With 4,165 Sandhill Cranes counted last October 30th, Baker Sanctuary set a new single day state record for crane numbers.  Saved from the brink of extirpation, cranes have become a Michigan environmental success story.

The 900 acre Baker Sanctuary was Michigan Audubon Society's first sanctuary and is still one of its largest.  Centrally located, the Sanctuary is about six miles northwest of the intersection of I-94 and I-69.  The Festival site is roughly an hour from Grand Rapids, 40 minutes from Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Jackson, and within a dozen miles of Battle Creek, Marshall, Charlotte, Bellevue and Olivet.

An extensive website containing maps and additional information about Baker Sanctuary and CraneFest ’99 is available at:  http://mas.mi.audubon.org/baker-sanctuary  and the Baker Sanctuary phone number is (616) 763-3377.

CraneFest ’99 is sponsored by the Michigan Audubon Society and the Kiwanis Club of Battle Creek, with additional assistance provided by the Bellevue Lions Club.

Michael Boyce
Baker Sanctuary Resident Manager
CraneFest Organizer
Co-chair., Environmental Action Committee
Michigan Audubon Society