Festival Packages 2020 coming soon
Walk-ins are NOT accepted
Registration is online only and opens on 1 August 2019 at 6 PM CDT and closes when maximum participant threshold is reached or 20 October 2019, 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.
Two Festival Packages are offered:
The Basic Festival Package includes access to harvest sites on three days (weather permitting): Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; meals included are a bag lunch on Thursday, and two evening socials: Jambalaya Supper on Thursday and Welsh Museum (heavy hors d’oeuvres on Saturday); and two morning or Wednesday afternoon field trips.
The Beat the Crowds Package adds one extra day (Wednesday) and is limited to 20 participants; it includes a morning field trip, lunch, and weather permitting the afternoon spent at a rice harvest site.
Additional All-day field trips to explore other habitats are available for an additional fee. Please also Review the Weather Contingency Plan. Personal transportation is required for all activities, carpooling is encouraged, but not guaranteed.
The Basic Festival Package
Wednesday, 30 October 2019
Check-in: 7-8:30 PM in the Evangeline Room of the Hampton Inn & Suites to pick up festival registration materials including gift tote with ID badge. Enjoy dessert and coffee, chat with festival coordinators, facilitators, and other participants, and visit Yellow Rail Sales.
Thursday, 31 October 2019
Check-in & Info booths
Check-in continues Thursday morning from 7-9 AM in the Evangeline Room. Beginning at 7:00 AM there will be representatives from various state and local environmental, agricultural, and tourism groups. USA Rice Federation and the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board hand out custom cloth bags of rice and other goodies. A great chance to meet and discuss - informative and fun. Also a chance to visit Yellow Rail Sales. Room closes at 9 AM.
Meet at 9:30 AM at Mike's Steak and Seafood Restaurant, just a short distance away for a brief Welcome Orientation. Participants pick up 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 will be offered.
Jambalaya Social at Myers Landing, Lake Arthur
Pass a good time at the Jambalaya Supper catered by Trahan’s Catering and hosted by Myer’s Landing Campground and RV Park, situated on the shore of the lovely Mermentau River. Cajun music by Les Freres Michot adds to the 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 both Festival Packages/ may be added for guests traveling with registered festival participant.
Friday, 1 November 2019
Check-in & Info booths
Check-in for late-comers from 6:30-9:00 AM in the Evangeline Room or visit Yellow Rail Sales.
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 to look for local species of interest in the Thornwell area; and
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.
Saturday, 2 November 2019
Saturday AM Field Trip
The Evangeline Room will be open 5:30 AM - 7 AM for last chance at Yellow Rail Sales. "Wish List"Trips(s) are offered to look for local species of interest departs at 7 AM and returns in time to get to the rice fields for rice harvest activities.
Saturday Field Pass
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
Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and crudites catered by Carla Johnson/ Cajun Tales Restaurant. Event hosted by the Welsh Museum, which archives many interesting items to browse through at this quaint local museum. Opportunity to visit with YRARF participants, coordinators, and facilitators to discuss festival experiences. DOOR PRIZES!!!! This Social is included in both Festival Packages and can be added separately for guests traveling with registered festival participant.
Sunday, 3 November 2019
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.
Wednesday 30 October 2019
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.
Beat the Crowds Festival Package
Beat the Crowds includes all of the items listed above and adds a small-group extra field day to the Basic Festival Package (weather permitting). The group will meet on Wednesday morning birding the area for local specialty species and/impressive concentrations of birds, or possibly staked out rarities. The group will take a lunch break at the Regatta Restaurant in Lake Arthur (included) before heading to the rice fields. The latter of course dependent on weather so if weather does not allow rice harvest then the afternoon will continue birding the area or possibly going as far as the coast depending on the interests of the participants. Participants are responsible for their own transportation; carpooling is possible but not guaranteed.
What isn't included in the Festival Packages
Neither of the packages include lodging, or any local/field trip transportation (carpooling is possible and encouraged but is not guaranteed). It does not include any other meals or other food items not referenced above, or any specialty food items.
Additional Field Trips not referenced above: All-Day Field Trips to the Pineywoods and the Cameron Coast, and the Coastal Black Rail Survey Trips. These trips are available at additional cost.
$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.