ARLINGTON – Water over roadways and minor river flooding were no match for the annual Arlington-Stillaguamish Eagle Festival as people packed into downtown to celebrate the return of wintering bald eagles.
The festival Jan. 31-Feb. 1 featured a variety of activities around Arlington including a chainsaw sculpture show, nature and educational outreach exhibits, hands-on activities, eagle-themed art and photography shows, draft horse wagon rides, petting farm animals, food, live entertainment and more.
A big change this year relocated the growing number of nature exhibits and environmental organizations up the hill to the Haller Middle School Gym, and the crowds followed.
Most of the celebration drew people to Legion Park, City Hall and Olympic Avenue. The Extreme Chainsaw Sculpture Show displayed the talents of several award-winning carvers skilled not only in carving eagles and bears, but plenty of other animals and objects as well.
The show ended on stage with a live auction, where visitors were able to buy works of art made at the carving show. Exhibits in the parking lot featured antique tractors, old-time machines and airplane simulators from the Arlington Fly-In.
Inside, Sarvey Wildlife Care Center drew event-goers into the Council Chambers to get up close and meet 22-year-old bald eagle, Freedom, a main attraction featured at the festival with a story of recovery after injuries cause in a turf battle.
Across the street at the Olympic Theater & Cafe, visitors stopped by a nature art show, as well as an “Art and Adventure” silent auction hosted by the Arlington Arts Council. The winning eagle photo was submitted by Garvin Carroll.
A petting farm at Co-Op Supply, and free horse-drawn wagon rides sponsored by the Downtown Arlington Business Association rounded out the fun.
Among the 23 different exhibits in Haller gym, the Marysville Rock and Gem Club had plenty of room to display their favorites, while wood carving, wood burning and whittling with the Quilceda Carvers also drew curious onlookers.
Art fun at Haller let kids paint woodland creatures on wood cutouts, with owls a favorite. Arlington United Church hosted a Fiber Art Demonstration, and Northwest Regional and Valley Spinners brought crafts to the mix, featuring fabric basket weaving, mixed-media dolls and more.
Sound Water Stewards had microscopes where participants could view microbes.
Post Middle School’s STEM class showed off their topographic model project.
Participants were encouraged to visit with each organization to get their Bingo cards stamped and win prizes from co-sponsor Stillaguamish Tribe.
“It seemed people enjoyed having all the nature exhibits in one area,” said Sarah Lopez, the city’s community revitalization project manager. “The exhibitors loved it, too.”
Stormy weather cancelled nature walks planned near Haller Park and Squire Creek Park.
Lopez said the festival drew visitors from around Snohomish County and beyond. People from Rochester, Olympia and Gig Harbor, for example, signed a guest book thanking for “An amazing experience, awesome exhibit.”