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Festival Package 2024 and Schedule of events

Walk-ins are NOT accepted

Registration is online only and opens on 1 August at 10 AM CDT and closes when maximum participant threshold is reached or 7 October 2024, which ever comes first. The number of participants is limited due to weather contingencies, field access, and to provide a more personal and friendly festival experience.

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival is different from most birding outings and festivals because we assume that the primary goal of participants attending the festival is to see a Yellow Rail, which means visiting a rice field during rice harvest operations. Harvest start time each day is FLUID and is determined solely by the farmer based on weather conditions and rice moisture levels. It is also important to realize that farmers cannot harvest in the rain or when the rice is wet (coated with dew), and after a heavy rain it may take up to 24 hours for rice to dry or fields to drain. 

The Basic Festival Package includes access to harvest sites on three days (weather permitting): Thursday Friday, and Saturday. Sunday is the backup weather emergency day if and only if all three previous days are canceled. See below for meals included.


The Black Rail banding surveys will again be offered in 2024. All-day field trips to explore more distant habitats will again be offered (Cameron Coast and Pineywoods). Please Review the Weather Contingency Plan. Personal transportation is required for all activities, carpooling is encouraged, but not guaranteed, especially with Covid19 still a consideration.

The Basic Festival Package


Registration is online only. No walk-ins are accepted. Register early for low pass numbers; pass number issued once registration is complete. See also information about the Field Pass. YRARF 2024 kicks off with check-in on Thursday morning. For those arriving earlier see below for pre-festival options on Wednesday.

Thursday, 31 October 2024
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Check-in & Info booths

Check-in Thursday morning from 7:30-10:30 AM at the Gator Chateau located at the Jeff Davis Parish I-10 Visitor's Center. Beginning at 7:30 AM, participants check-in and pick up festival materials. There will be representatives from various state and local environmental, agricultural, and tourism groups. USA Rice Federation and the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board hands out custom cloth bags of rice and other goodies. A great chance to meet and discuss -  informative and fun. 


Welcome Orientation

At 10:30 AM we will have a brief Welcome Orientation. After which participants pick up their go-lunch and the group heads to a harvest site (weather permitting). 

Thursday Field Pass 

Weather permitting, the afternoon will be spent at a rice harvest site. In addition to watching for Yellow Rails and other species flushed by the combine and birding the vicinity, there will be combine and ATV rides. A bird banding operation will be at the field (weather permitting) and participants can talk to the researchers and see some of the rice field species up close. Participants may come and go at their leisure. If weather does not allow harvest activities then other field trip options may be offered.

Dinner Social at Myers Landing, Lake Arthur

Pass a good time on the shores of the lovely Mermentau River hosted by Myer’s Landing Campground and RV Park. Dinner will be a classic casual Louisiana meal featuring gumbo on top a hearty serving of rice to hopefully celebrate our first day at a harvest site (weather permitting). Attire is VERY casual - if fact most come directly from the field site. Cajun music by Les Freres Michot adds to our evening’s entertainment. Dance if so inclined! Or wander around the premises to look for birds. This is an outdoor event but an indoor facility is available in the event of inclement weather. The Myer's Landing Campground Store will be open for any last minute needs. This Social included in the Festival Package but can be added separately for guests traveling with a registered festival participant.

Friday, 1 November 2024

Late Check-in

Anyone who missed the Thursday orientation should make arrangements to check in and pick up their festival materials at the Hampton Inn.

Friday AM Field Trips

On Friday morning before the fields are dry enough to begin harvesting rice, we will escort participants to different area locations to look for target species. Helpful facilitators will accompany participants to look for their “wish list” species and will be available to answer questions.Two local trips are offered and will depart the Hampton at 7:00 AM:

  1-Wish List AM Trip to look for local species of interest in the Thornwell area.


  2-Falcon Rice Mill Tour and Birding <alternatively you can meet for the tour at the rice mill in Crowley at 9 AM>. Family-owned Falcon Rice Mill opens its doors to YRARF participants to show what happens to rice once it is harvested. During an informative facility tour, you will see how rice is cleaned, treated, and readied for sale. Their milling operation opened in 1950 and includes popular Cajun Country brand of long, medium, whole grain brown, jasmine, and popcorn rice. The mill and birding trip is also offered on Wednesday afternoon.


Both AM trips are scheduled to return in time to get to the rice fields for rice harvest activities.

Friday Field Pass 

Weather permitting, participants head to a harvest site in the late morning (after the rice has a chance to dry). Once at the participants there, may come and go at their leisure. If harvesting is not possible then local trips will be offered instead. Participants are responsible for providing their own food/beverages.


Once harvesting is over, participants are on their own for the evening.

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Saturday, 2 November 2024
Saturday Field Pass 

Participants are on their own to explore the area on Saturday morning prior to the harvesting. 


Weather permitting, participants head to a harvest site in the late morning (after the rice has a chance to dry). Once there, participants may come and go at their leisure. If harvesting is not possible then local trips will be offered instead. If field days occurred on Thursday and Friday attendance is usually light at the fields on Saturday. Participants are responsible for providing their own food/beverages. 

Closing Reception at the Welsh Museum, Welsh

We will conclude the festival with another classic Louisiana meal, this time, jambalaya hosted by the Welsh Museum. This quaint local museum archives many interesting items to browse. This is a great opportunity to visit with YRARF participants, coordinators, and facilitators to discuss festival experiences. DOOR PRIZES!!!! This Social is included in the Festival Package but can be added separately for guests traveling with a registered festival participant.

Sunday, 3 November 2024
Emergency Field Pass

Sunday is held in reserve as an Emergency Field Day if all other field days were canceled due to weather. There are no other scheduled events on Sunday other than the add-on All-Day Coastal Cameron Trip. Please note that during some festivals Sunday has been offered as a Lagniappe Day - this is not scheduled for YRARF 2024.

Wednesday 30 October 2024

Wednesday Rice Mill and afternoon birding

Arriving at Jennings earlier? The Crowley Mill and birding trip is offered on Wednesday afternoon 12:30-4 PM. See info above (trip also offered on Friday morning). If getting in a bit later on Wednesday, then you can meet the group at the mill in Crowley for the tour at 3 PM. This trip is part of the Basic Festival Package.

What isn't included in the Festival Package

Festival package does NOT include lodging or any local/field trip transportation (carpooling is possible but is not guaranteed). It does NOT include any meals or other food items not referenced above, or any specialty food items. 

The package does NOT include All-Day Field Trips to the Pineywoods and the Cameron Coast, or the Coastal Black Rail Survey trips. These trips are available at additional cost as space remains available. If full, then ask to be on the Wait List.

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$25.00/person for All-Day Trips
$50.00/person for Black Rail Survey

Weather Contingency Plan

Harvest activities of YRARF can be impacted by inclement weather or the aftermath, rice fields can not be harvested when the rice is wet. Please review the Weather Contingency Plan to see how the schedule may be impacted by the weather.

Tour group companies

Email for more information about how to bring a tour group to the festival.

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