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Tired of the complexities of everyday existence? Looking for a day away from the norm that will invigorate you and send you home saying "I'll do that again next year and next year I'll bring my friends with me?"
Take two or three hours and visit NatureFest, which is a 12-hour opportunity to explore the nature preserve in Mineola, Texas, with the help of some experts.
The Mineola Nature Preserve Friends, with the principal movers being Sandy Tibbs and Jay Heppner of Lost Creek Gallery in Mineola, organized the yearly venture in recent years and each year it has grown in popularity because of the diverse educational opportunities available to everyone.
There are opportunities for young artists to work alongside more experienced landscape artists from the Mineola League of the Arts, parents and grandparents can fly kites with their children and grandchildren and throughout the day a variety of guided tours take place.
The Lone Star Dutch Oven Society, a mixture of geezers, geezerettes and a few younger folks, often show up early in the morning and proceed to feed the visitors a variety of Dutch oven-cooked cobblers, biscuits, eggs, stews and more. Our favorite was the peach cobbler or maybe the mixture of eggs, potatoes and jalapeno peppers.
There is normally a birding and wildlife walk with Tibbs that begins first thing in the morning and it is followed by an amphibian and reptile walk. You can learn how to attract butterflies and wildlife to your backyard and also how to photograph wildlife.
Some years there are kite flying competitions, predator bird demonstrations and more.
NatureFest09 included programs provided by the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center's Mary Schoenffel and Janet Jackson and also a program on "creepy and slimy" members of nature by Creature Teacher Robyn Wheeler. This isn't a day just for children. This is a day the entire family will remember for years.
The day ends (weather permitting) with a story telling around a campfire, highly interesting "Owl Prowl" with Tibbs leading the way, and sometimes the Astronomical Society of East Texas will set up their equipment for visitors to enjoy some up close star gazing.
You can learn more about Naturefest's schedule of events each year by checking the city's website www.mineola.com. Heppner and Tibbs can be reached through mnpfriends.org or through lostcreekonline.com or 903-569-8228.
They and the volunteers they organize work extremely hard to make this day something special for everyone.