After shutdown canceled popular fall festival, refuge will host Nov. 23 open house

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

A popular fall festival at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge fell victim to the partial government shutdown, but a new show will go on.

A fall open house at the refuge near Zimmerman kicks off Saturday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Author and nature photographer Stan Tekiela will be featured at the refuge's fall open house.
Author and nature photographer Stan Tekiela will sign his books at the refuge’s fall open house.

The open house is the Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge’s response to the cancelation of the Fall Wildlife Festival. That event had been set for Oct. 5 but was canceled due to the partial government shutdown that shuttered the refuge for 16 days.

Betsy Beneke, Sherburne refuge visitor services manager, said there were a lot of disappointed visitors when the fall festival couldn’t be held.

“We wanted to do a ‘little’ something before the holidays,” she said of the open house.

One of the open house events is a Wildlife Poker Run from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants will meet at 10 a.m. at the refuge headquarters (on County Road 9, 5 miles west of Highway 169) to pick up a map and collect a poker hand by driving to five refuge sites. One stop will have an opportunity to learn about a new education facility.

Prizes will be awarded to those with the top three hands.

Beneke said the Friends’ Eagle’s Nest Nature Store is also stocked up on inventory and will offer a chance to shop for the holidays. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other open house events include:

•A book signing by Stan Tekiela, author and nature photographer, from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

•Kids crafts and face painting, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

•An outdoor art activity for kids at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m.

•Musical entertainment.

•Bid on holiday gift items at the Friends’ silent auction, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

•Food will be available for purchase from Firehouse BBQ.

For more information about the Sherburne refuge, go to