REGION - For 29 years the Audubon Festival has been bringing many of America’s finest nature and wildlife artists, craftsmen, Nationally-acclaimed wildlife presentations, and children’s hands-on learning activities to Hawley every July.

Envisioned to bring awareness of our natural treasures in our area, the funds from this event have underwritten over 100 environmental scholarships for children and teachers, as well as providing books and research materials for all of the area school and public libraries.

The tireless efforts of its volunteers, as well as the collaborative efforts with its partners, have made this annual event one of the foremost leaders in Environmental Education and Awareness in the Pocono Region today.

Designed originally to bring awareness of Nature’s wonders through art and close up encounters with our region’s wildlife, its efforts are now being emulated across the country.

For 29 years the Festival has been enticing many of the most acclaimed wildlife artists in American and Canada to be a part of this 2 day celebration. Its reputation is such that now many of the top American nature artists are present year after year.

The Festival expanded to include many of the area’s best craftsmen, encouraging demonstration and explanations about techniques, especially for children. This year will feature not only many of our regions local craftsmen, but from 12 different states, as well.

The real jewel of the event, however, is its wildlife and nature presentations. These exhibits and presentations have always been designed for kids, yet, the audience is filled with fascinated adults, as well. Through the years, children have been able to look eye to eye with some of North America’s most unusual creatures, and have the animals look back… alive, curious, and…well fed.

Over the years many different animals have featured up close and alive - Black Bears, Cougars, Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Vultures and even the American Condor have all been visitors to the Festival, not to mention, all of the opossums, skunks, raccoons, and the wide variety of snakes, turtles, frogs, and even a wide variety of strange insects.

All of these creatures have been accompanied by top experts from around the country, ready to answer any questions, and to bring to life what it is like to live the life of these animals.

2014 is going to be no exception to this long history of eagerly awaited NEPA Audubon Festivals. Among the 2014 Festival highlights are hands-presentations by the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Rizzo’s Reptile Discovery, as well as the Pocono Snake and Animal Farm. In addition, there are presentations and exhibits by a variety of other environmental groups.

“While the festival is designed for people of all ages, education and fun for the younger set is especially appropriate. Proceeds help to fund scholarships and literature for children and teachers to learn more about nature and protecting the environment,” Festival Coordinator Dave Fooks said.

This year 22 of the finest Nature and Wildlife Artists in the country from 15 different states will exhibit and sell their original paintings, sketches, photography, and serigraphy.

Fifty-three craftsmen, both local and regional, will exhibit their work, all of it selected for its interrelationship with themes of nature.

Sponsored by the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, the festival helps to fund environmental scholarships and conservation programs for schools and community groups. Additionally, books and reference materials related to Nature, conservation, and the environment are donated annually to all of the area’s school and public libraries. Additionally, the NEPA Audubon Society maintains 2 wetlands in Wayne County.

The dates of the Audubon Festival this year are July 19 & 20. The Festival is held at the Wallenpaupack Area High School, an in-door, air conditioned facility, on Route 6 in Hawley, PA. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Plenty of delicious food is available at the event. Admission is $5, and children under the age of 12 years admitted free.