Families can get their feet wet at James Farm Ecological Preserve this weekend, with a full day of free fun and activities. The inaugural Water Family Fest will be Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With hands-on activities, people of all ages can learn about Delaware’s natural resources including wetlands, water and shorelines.
The free festival is hosted by Delaware Division of Watershed Stewardship and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) and is designed to teach the public about various programs to promote, protect and improve Delaware’s natural habitats.
“It’s an opportunity for families to get out learn a little more about projects in the bays and the watersheds to protect the waterways they love,” said Amy Barra, CIB outreach and education coordinator.
Visitors will enjoy “feet-wet, hands-dirty fun” activities, including “Touch a Truck,” self-guided hikes, a scavenger hunt, orienteering challenge and beach seining. Ecobay Kayak & Stand Up Paddle services will be available, with just a fee by donation to the CIB.
Barra said sneakers are the ideal footwear to explore hiking trails, wetlands and the beach.
On the Storybook Walk, families can literally follow a storybook, page by page, through the James Farm trails, so kids can spend some extra time outdoors, with the fun of a story.
“We’re seeing tons of research how that’s really beneficial to kids and parents,” Barra said.
Starting every half hour, from 10:30 a.m. through 2:30 p.m., there will be short talks on topics including horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, clamming, aquaculture, green infrastructure, native plants and more.
Maui Wowi will sell shaved ice and smoothies. Other vendors will be selling nature-based products, such as books, nautical artwork and even handmade décor made from reclaimed tires and wood. Guests can even win the native plant giveaways.
Environmental agencies will host educational exhibits and demonstrations on seagrass, shellfish, waves, wetlands, tax ditches, rain gardens and more.
“We’re really excited about this. It’s catered to families, but if you’re an adult and maybe you don’t have kids … I think there will be something for all ages,” said Barra. “I definitely recommend you check it out.”
Although many of the activities are geared toward kids, most booths will be staffed by the experts from each organization.
“We were really pleased once we out it together. There’s going to be a lot of stuff,” Barra said.
The event will utilize all of James farm, from the event lawn to the trails and beachfront.
People may want to bring a picnic lunch (picnic tables are onsite), sunscreen, bug spray and a beach towel to sit by the water’s edge.
This event is an expansion of the former Wetland Celebration that was held for several years at Trap Pond State Park. It was moved to James Farm, where the diverse landscapes — field, forest, marsh and beachfront — represent the many locales where the division’s staff work.
The Division of Watershed Stewardship is part of Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC). The event also kicks off the Division of Watershed Stewardship’s Dune Preservation Sign Contest (more information to come).
James Farm Ecological Preserve is located at 30048 Cedar Neck Road, Ocean View, Del. On-site parking is free.
Details are online at de.gov/familywaterfamilyfest or https://www.facebook.com/events/414684385972326.
A RSVP is considered helpful, but not required, at www.eventbrite.com/e/water-family-fest-tickets-59713200791.
By Laura Walter