Wrangell’s bird and bear festivals will receive almost $50,000 in grant funding to promote the cultural and tourist events. Secure Rural School funds will go to both of Wrangell’s wildlife celebrations: Stikine River Birding Festival and Alaska Bearfest.
Corree Delabrue organizes Bird Fest and chairs the city’s Convention and Visitor Bureau Board. She said the city applied for these funds a few years ago and just recently got the OK.
“There was some confusion and questions about whether the festivals actually qualify for these funds,” Delabrue said. “A few years later it was actually all sorted out. The festivals do qualify for these funds. And so now each festival, both the bird festival and bear festival, have about $24,000 to be used over a multi-year period.”
Secure Rural School grants come through the U.S. Forest Service.
Delabrue said the extra funds will bring in more speakers.
“With some funds you can ask some people that are a little further away or have like a speaking fee, a few years back we also had artists come to town and work in the schools. And we discontinued that when we didn’t have funding, or extra funding. With more funding there’s more options available.”
The visitor board is also interested in promoting shoulder season tourism. Delabrue hopes that Bird Fest can promote the activity throughout the year, not just for the spring event. Millions of birds migrate throughout the Stikine Delta, including one of the world’s largest concentrations of bald eagles, according to the Audubon Society.
“When you have something that’s migratory um picking one weekend can be kind of difficult. It’s kind of a moving target,” Delabrue said. “Some years there’s lots of birds. Some years they’re earlier or later. So that’s why we’re just promoting spring birding in general.”
The borough will host Bird Fest in April and Bear Fest in July of next year.