Monte Vista Crane Festival draws visitors, artists and photographers


Photos courtesy of Ray Esparza The Monte Vista Crane Festival was March 11-13.

MONTE VISTA — The sights and sounds of thousands of Rocky Mountain sandhill cranes once again fill the skies of the San Luis Valley. Every year, Monte Vista holds the Crane Festival. It draws visitors from around the country to view these magnificent birds at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.

Also, a large part of the festival is the talks by wildlife experts, hand-painted cranes created by local artists displayed in town, and the Craft and Nature Fair.

This year, the Craft and Nature Fair was held in the new Outcalt Event and Conference at SLV Ski Hi Complex. The building was recently completed and has several amenities that made it a great venue for artists to show their wares. The arts and crafts fair was held on March 11 and 12 with vendors from all over the San Luis Valley and Colorado showing up in large numbers to sell their various items. The Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce hosted the event.

Many of the artists expressed their pleasure at being able to sell in the new building and appreciated the large crowds that attended the fair.

One vendor remarked, “It’s great to be able to have something like this in the early spring. It is usually too cold to have festivals now, so it is great to be indoors.”

Others remarked that the festival-goers were having a great time and that they were buying a lot of handmade arts and crafts.

Visitors from all over the United States could be seen at the pre-planned crane-watching events. Unlike previous years, where the events were hosted by the crane tours, instead, people drove themselves to a meet-up location on the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge and learned from Refuge staff and volunteers some interesting facts about sandhill cranes.

There were many opportunities for attendees of the free meet-ups to photograph the cranes in their habitat.

The speaking events that are usually held were instead available on-demand via recorded sessions on the Monte Vista Crane Festival website.