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International Festival Owls this weekend in Houston, MN

The International Owl Center will have their live owls, vendors, art, projects, and activities for the whole family throughout town.



Don’t miss Karla doing an owl call at the 4:30 mark, joined by an owl friend!

The International Festival of Owls is back this weekend. Between COVID and bird flu precautions, things will be different this year but there’s still a ton of family fun this weekend and live owls.

Karla Bloem, Executive Director of the International Owl Center in Houston, told Z93 this year’s festival will not include birds from the Illinois Raptor Center due to the significant risk of avian influenza. They will still have their birds at the Owl Center on Cedar Street including Ruby the Great Horned Owl, J.R. the Eastern Screech Owl and Piper the American Barn Owl, who is currently sitting on five eggs. Bloem said that Piper loves showing off her eggs so that is a sight not to be missed.

Bloem noted the 2022 festival T shirts will feature Alice, the Great Horned Owl, who turned 25 years old this year. “It’s kind of a throwback shirt to the very first shirt she was on back in 2000 for the Houston Nature Center. So that’s kind of an extra fun t-shirt that we’re doing this year.”

The festival’s only formal scheduled program will be Saturday evening, which is pre-registration only. Bloem said Dr. Prachi Mehta from India, an Owl Hall of Fame Award winner, will be coming and speaking. Those interested in attending Dr. Mehta’s presentation can register here.

All other activities are on your own, but there’s still lots of things to do including vendors and face painting at the Community Center. The scouts are doing nest box building for $45 per box, and the festival will also have owl pellet dissection for $5. The festival will have children’s owl art from around the world on display, not just at the Owl Center, but also a special exhibition at the Fest Grounds with kids art available for purchase.

Festers won’t want to miss the Parade of Owls Art Tour and the Houston Library will have an outdoor story stroll. Throughout town are 12 public art sculptures made of metal, concrete mosaic and chainsaw carving. Bloem said, “those are the coolest ones, that chainsaw carved bench and the chainsaw carved standing dead tree.”

There will be a limited supply of take-and-make owl hatch day crafts, for a fun at-home project after the fest in honor of Alice’s hatch day.

Kids art are featured on the street banners around town and if you look closely, you’ll find three of those that are actually done by artists from Ukraine.

The Center has raised over $200,000 for Ukraine by selling the art submitted by Ukrainian children over the years for their art contest. Learn more about the “Ukraine Art for Ukraine Kids” program HERE.

Debuting at the festival will be their new 20 pack of greeting cards with designs from Ukranian kids in addition to their usual art card sets.

Ukrainian Art Cards

Saturday, April 30, 2022 (# indicates regular admission for the day: $7 adults, $4 ages 4-17, members free)
All day, on your own: story stroll – “Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story” by Maria Gianferrari (510 E Cedar St)
9:00 – 5:00:  Vendors & Face-painting (Houston Community Center)
9:00 – 5:00: International children’s owl art & festival shirts featuring Alice the Owl for sale (Fest Building)
9:00 until gone: Take & make owl hatch-day craft (limit 1 per child or 2 per household – Fest Building)
10:00 – 4:00: Visit the International Owl Center & gift shop, live owls on display#
10:30 – 3:30: Nest box building ($45/box, Fest Building)
10:30 – 3:30: Pellet dissection ($5/pellet, Fest Building)
7:00 PM: Program by World Owl Hall of Fame Special Achievement Award Winner Dr. Prachi Mehta from India (Community Center, pre-registration required)

Sunday, May 1, 2022 (# indicates regular admission for the day: $7 adults, $4 ages 4-17, members free)
​All day, on your own: story stroll – “Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story” by Maria Gianferrari (510 E Cedar St)
7:00 – 11:00:  Birding, Natural History & Geology car caravan trip (Meet in Trailhead Park, pre-registration required – tentative)
10:00 – 4:00:  Visit the International Owl Center & gift shop, live owls on display #

Other fun things to do in Houston
Parade of Owls art tour of 12 public owl sculptures around town
Street banners featuring kids owl art from around the world (can you find the three from Ukraine?)
-Natural Playground and Houston Nature Center in Trailhead Park
-Mission 66 Playground in City Park
-City-wide rummage sale Saturday morning

Feature picture of Ruby The Great Horned Owl by Pat Peckham

Tracy has worked at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 2004. She is half of the Z93 Morning Buzz with Brittany and Ballzer and coordinates Z93's charity, Zcare. She writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse and announces for the Mississippi Valley Mayhem Roller Derby team.

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