Plants and pollinators will be the focus of Bristol, Tennessee’s 25th Annual Wildlife Weekend, a fun and educational event that allows nature lovers to explore the diverse plant and animal species available within Steele Creek Park.
Sponsored by the City’s Department of Parks & Recreation and Friends of Steele Creek Nature Center & Park, this milestone event will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, with a welcome reception and lecture titled “Pollination in action: Fantastic bees and where to find them” by Gerardo Arceo-Gomez, of East Tennessee State University. An associate director of biological sciences, Dr. Arceo-Gomez received his doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburg and has written or co-written more than 50 scientific publications. The lecture is free, but pre-registration is required at www.bristoltn.org/Bees.
Friday’s events will conclude with the much-anticipated awards ceremony for the Wildlife Weekend Amateur Photography Contest. Winners will be announced in both adult and youth categories based on how well their photos depict the natural aspects of Steele Creek Park. The deadline for entries is Friday, Sept. 16, and complete contest guidelines are available at www.bristoltn.org/PhotoContest.
Wildlife Weekend activities will continue the following day, Saturday, Oct. 8, with a long list of educational programing and presentations for nature lovers of all ages. Planned activities include:
- Bird Banding at 9:30 a.m.;
- Cade’s Insect & Spider Walk at 10 a.m.;
- Mike’s Mushroom Walk at 1 p.m.;
- Jeremy’s Honeybee Walk at 2 p.m.; and
- Lance’s Reptile Hike at 3 p.m.
For those interested in enjoying a moderate hike to key points of interest, Harvey Anderson, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker affectionately known as “The Commander,” will lead a three-mile hike to the highest point in Steele Creek Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday and a 4.5-mile hike to the park’s oldest tree at 1 p.m. A series of interactive kiosks will also be available throughout the day to provide educational information about reptiles, fossils, rocks and minerals, owl pellets, bugs, bird skins and skulls, raptors and more. As a special treat for young nature lovers, Chippy, the Steele Creek Park mascot, will make an appearance at various activities throughout the day.
Also, as a special feature of this year’s event, a digital version of the traditional Wildlife Weekend passport will be included. To participate in this scavenger hunt, download the GoodChase App to a smartphone or tablet and search for Wildlife Weekend or use the code PBMK7K. Create a player profile to begin.
The 3rd annual iNaturalist Bioblitz for Steele Creek Park and Sullivan County will also begin on Oct. 1 and wrap up on Saturday, Oct. 8, the final day of Wildlife Weekend. This event allows individuals to record what they observe in Steele Creek Park and throughout Sullivan County, then share their observations with others. Additional information is available at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/scp-wildlife-weekend-2022-bioblitz.
All Wildlife Weekend activities are free with park admission of $2 per vehicle. For more information, contact Nature Center Director Jeremy Stout at [email protected] or (423) 989-5616.