11th Yakutat Tern Festival

The 11th Yakutat Tern Festival took place from 2nd to 5th June, 2022, in the small southeast Alaska community of Yakutat, U.S.A., organized by Yakutat Nature Society (YNS). The festival was established in 2011 as a way for the community of Yakutat and visitors to celebrate the natural and cultural resources of Yakutat and to help support the local economy through ecotourism, with the added benefit of spreading the word about terns and other species at risk.

The Aleutian Tern was chosen as the highlighted species because of the importance of the local tern colony on Black Sand Spit – the currently largest known colony in Alaska on the edge of its breeding range. Local area managers and partners regularly monitor the colony as part of a statewide effort to learn more about this suspected declining species.

Aleutian Tern © Mike Denega

About the Festival

The festival is planned and implemented by local organizations and individuals including the U.S. Forest Service, the City and Borough of Yakutat, the National Park Service, and many others. Numerous sponsors provide financial and in-kind support. Activities are free for youth and by donation for local participants.

The 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic. The planning committee took that time to work on the formation of the Yakutat Nature Society (YNS), with a serving board made up of local community members. YNS is now the primary entity supporting and organizing the Tern Festival.

In 2021 the festival committee decided to hold a COVID mitigated scaled-back local community-based festival which was well received and appreciated by the community.

©️Mary Glaves

2022 Yakutat Tern Festival

For 2022, the festival welcomed a featured artist, Marybeth Holleman. Youth and adults alike enjoyed nature walks and art projects with Marybeth. Youth activities included softball games, a field trip exploring tide pools, Bird Jeopardy (“Jeobirdy”), tie-dying their own festival t-shirt, being sworn in as National Park Service junior rangers, and learning basic birding skills. Youth and adults alike competed in the Yakutat Wildman 5k run/walk/bike race. A few daring participants hopped on a charter boat to get up close and personal with the Hubbard Glacier!

A highlight this year was a performance by the local Tlingit dance group, the Mt. St. Elias Dancers-a previously annual favorite during the festival for the first time during the festival since 2018.

Future Festivals

©️Kerry Howard

As the world continues to navigate the pandemic, festival organizers look forward to building back the festival program to be better than ever, including previous programs such as live bird programs (through the Alaska Raptor Center or Bird Treatment and Learning Center), bird banding demonstrations, multiple field trips, visiting educator programs, keynote speaker, and more!

Visit the Official website of Yakutat Tern Festival: https://www.yakutatternfestival.org/

Article by Susan Oehlers & Mary Glaves, YNS, 30 June 2022

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