ARLINGTON — The seventh annual Arlington-Stillaguamish Eagle Festival marked the second year of a second day of activities, as well as the second year of a host of activities that also debuted last year, all of which seemed to be settling in as new traditions, according to event organizers.
City of Arlington Natural Resources Manager Bill Blake credited the good weather on Saturday, Feb. 1, with helping to push the estimated attendance to more than 2,000 visitors to town, of whom as many as 800 took in the two “Predators of the Heart” wild animal shows at Eagle Creek Elementary, sponsored by Calvary Arlington.
“Even with the all the things we had going on Friday, [Jan. 31,] there were still more things to do that Saturday than people could get around to doing in a single day,” Blake said. “We provided a good variety of groups, I think. We also saw a good number of eagles, maybe a dozen, during the guided tour of the Port Susan Preserve Nature Conservancy that morning, and about three more flew by during our walks through the city’s storm water wetland and Eagle Trail before noon.”
Sarvey Wildlife Center volunteers were even able to feed one of their own eagles during their Saturday afternoon open house in the Arlington City Council Chambers, as they showed off formerly wild birds that can no longer be released due to their debilitating injuries.
“It’s terrible that we have to keep such a magnificent bird because her beak is misaligned, but we can’t realign it and she’d starve out in the wild,” Kestrel SkyHawk said of Hu Iwake, the Golden Eagle perched on her arm, which has been with Sarvey for 13 of its 14 years. “Normally, Golden Eagles are quite fierce, so that we can show one off to the public is an exceptional opportunity.”
Just out the doors of the Council Chambers and to the south on Olympic Avenue, Legion Park played host to the return of the Country Carvers Chainsaw Carving Show on both Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, which had a Seahawks-flavored theme this year in honor of Seattle’s home team heading to the Super Bowl that Sunday. Dave and Debbie Tremko, the regular organizers of the event, reported that it managed to draw around a dozen carvers this year, even with the number of cancellations they received, which Debbie touted as a great turnout.
Jacob Lucas came from Bonney Lake to display the “Spirit Warrior” — a 7-foot-tall tribute to the Seahawks, the “12th Man” and Native American culture that it took him three weeks to carve out of Western red cedar — which will soon be displayed in the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.
“But I’d love to see it back in the city, in the stadium, for everyone to enjoy,” Lucas said.
On the other side of the Legion Park gazebo, children continued to race through the Salmon Obstacle Course throughout the day.
“It’s been a great family time,” said Christy Chadwick, an Arlington mom and first-time Eagle Festival attendee. “I didn’t know that eagles could live 70 years in captivity, but only half that long in the wild, before I spoke to the folks with Sarvey.”
“Our kids have had a blast,” said fellow local mom Aura James, attending her second Eagle Festival with her son Zack, who loved the Salmon Obstacle Course. “My boys just loved seeing the eagles.”
Blake wistfully recalled building the first Salmon Obstacle Course with John Munn 16 years ago. The portable interactive exhibit was featured at the Stillaguamish Festival of the River for years, until that event’s crowds threatened to overwhelm the sturdiness of the display.
“John has since passed away, but it’s nice to know that this was one of our ideas that worked,” Blake said. “The kids didn’t stop using it once that Saturday. I’m actually looking into the possibility of setting up a permanent Salmon Obstacle Course in town.”
Over in Magnolia Hall, the Arlington Arts Council teamed up with the Marysville Rock & Gem Club and the Monroe Gold N Gem Prospecting Association to present the Rock, Paper, Scissors Art Show on Feb. 1, and while Arts Council Board member Roberta Baker might have liked to see a few more folks filtering through, she appreciated the interest of those who did stop by.
“Although we’ve had the doll-makers and the weavers here before, this was our first time hosting the rockhounds,” Baker said. “Regardless of the medium, the art we’ve received each year has been exceptional, and has only grown in talent over time.”
While Karen Chabinsky organized a group of women from the Northwest Regional Spinners Association and Valley Spinners Guild, the Dollirious Cloth Doll Club was represented by Beth Duncan, Mary Jean Williams and Sharon Johnson, who presented a display of mixed-media handmade dolls.
The Arts Council even named the first-place winners of the Eagle Festival Haiku Contest, which included Bellingham’s Greg Beatty in the adult category, Lake Stevens’ Carly Bair in the grades 6-12 category, and Arlington’s Heather Broyles in the K-5 category. All three will receive $100 each and have their haiku imprinted in the concrete of the new plaza being built on 67th Avenue NE.
“This festival is just a good opportunity to educate people about the beauty and wonders of our natural resources, and of the importance of protecting them and ensuring our own quality of life,” Blake said.