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Tamarac Fall Festival

Guided refuge tours, above, will take visitors by bus behind the gates for a glimpse of wild area and wildlife. Photo courtesy of Lowell Kramer.1 / 2
Stations along a hiking trail, engage families as they learn about the wildlife at Tamarac NWR. Photo courtesy of Denis Mudderman.2 / 2

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge will host its annual Fall Festival on Saturday, September 26. The entire family is invited to attend the day's nature activities, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"It is an annual event to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, and it also happens to be National Public Lands Day," said Park Ranger Kelly Blackledge of this year's impeccable timing.

The theme for the day is Tamarac's White Tail. Steve Porter's trophy whitetails will be brought in to offer visitors an up-close examination of three live bucks, as well as a display of 20 different trophy antler sheds.

"He'll be giving some tips on hunting and attracting deer, and some of the natural history of deer," Blackledge said of Porter's presentation.

"It'll be quite exciting for people to see the live deer," added Ron Jenson, President of the Tamarac Interpretive Association, which is sponsoring the festival.

Several law enforcement officers will also be at the refuge to show an example of a game scene incident. Onlookers will be asked to examine the site and figure out the "lawful or not-so-lawful" aspects, Blackledge said.

Other presentation topics will include landscaping with deer-resistant plants, deer ticks and diseases that humans can contract from them, hunting tips and ideas about food plots for deer from the Smokey Hills Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Between presentations, take the opportunity to view the photographs from the refuge's annual contest, which will announce its winners during the festival.

Refuge staff, biologists with targeted knowledge about the habitats at Tamarac, will also be leading tours through the grounds during the festival.

"This year we are going to take people to an area where we have deer exclosures," Blackledge said, adding that the exclosures "document the impact deer have on reforestation sites on the refuge."

The tours will also include opportunities for wildlife watching. Each is about an hour and a half long. The early bird tour will go out at 8 a.m., and tours will follow every two hours afterward through 2 p.m.

When hiking strikes you with hunger, Tamarac's friends group will be serving a fundraiser lunch. The association will also have a silent auction fundraiser, with all the proceeds aimed at providing transportation for kids to take school field trips to the refuge.

"We spend a lot of time educating children about the environment and the great outdoors," Jenson said, adding, "It's the emphasis of our group."

Keeping with that pursuit, and making the festival a family-oriented event, the refuge will have several activities for children going on throughout the day. Kids will be able to rummage around inside hunting blinds in hopes of making a discovery, as well as participating in games involving camouflage, scents and predator/prey relationships.

No matter what brings you to the refuge, all visitors are encouraged to bring cameras.

"It's such a beautiful time of year to be here," Blackledge said. "It's a great time to just drive through the refuge, and what a bonus to have all this going on."

"We also have a great barbeque tenderloin sandwich," Jenson said with a smile.

For the gorgeous fall colors, the array of wildlife, the educational benefits or just the food and the fun, spend the day at Tamarac's Fall Festival, enjoying all that outdoor Minnesota has to offer.