Celebrating annual flight

Brant Wildlife Festival is over, but it marks a new era for more community participation in an event that marks the Brant migration

Carrie Powell-Davidson with Tim Clermont and Alan Messner at  the Brant Festival opening night gala with brantini ice luge.

Carrie Powell-Davidson with Tim Clermont and Alan Messner at the Brant Festival opening night gala with brantini ice luge.

The Brant Wildlife Festival may be over but the little geese can still be spotted on the shoreline feeding on the herring roe that is left on eelgrass.

The fattening up ritual that enables the Brant to make their trip north to Alaska was celebrated with a wide array of activities in March and April throughout the community and festival organizers are optimistic about the future of the event and plan to make it even bigger and better.

For the past 16 years the Parksville-Qualicum Beach community has set the annual festival into flight each spring and The Nature Trust of British Columbia has provided the leadership in recent years.

The non-profit land conservation organization which has coordinated the festival with the help of several community groups and government agencies is hoping more community partners come on board.

While their mandate is land conservation the group also sees the importance of the longstanding community wildlife festival which not only connects people with their natural surroundings but also promotes tourism.

This year marked the beginning of a new era for the festival including more community participation.

The City of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Parksville Chambers of Commerce, Oceanside Tourism Association and Parksville Qualicum Beach Fish and Game Club all contributed to the success of this year’s event according to Tim Clermont of the Nature Trust and he said they want to involve other groups next year.

“We want to get VIU involved more next year with Deep Bay Shellfish Station,” he said and added, “We want local tourism businesses to come up with packages that will attract tourists.”

He said it will be a similar format for next year but they definitely want to expand the opening night gala.

“There was just one night this year for the artists. We hope it can be an all weekend event so more people have more time to view the art and we are looking at bringing back the carvers.”

Clermont said they may even start the event a week early.

He said he was delighted with the brant geese cooperating this year and while they were more spread out along the coast they have also hung around longer.

“There were quite a few birds in Deep Bay this year.  It is good they are not being disturbed.

“They are enjoying themselves so much they are staying longer than normal.”

Clermont said they received some additional funding this year thanks to the support of the local business community and that will help with next year’s event.

He is also putting out a call for someone who is good at sewing to make a Brant costume for next year.

He said Parksville counsellor Carrie Powell-Davidson who was instrumental in coming up with the Brantini for the opening night gala has volunteered to wear the outfit.