The 2021 Winter Bird Festival looked a little different this year due to COVID restrictions, but according to Special Events Coordinator Jackie Garcia, the event was still a success.

“This was a successful event and we are elated with the outcome of this event,” Garcia told The Galt Herald.

Due to the inability for large groups to gather, Garcia and her team planned virtual classes and presentations, as well as two virtual tours of the Cosumnes River Preserve. Guests were also able to download a self-guided driving tour.

More than 800 attendees participated in the various tours and activities, according to Garcia.

The annual festival normally brings in visitors from outside the valley, but this year’s virtual event reached far outside the California borders.

“This year allowed our festival to not only reach out to the Sacramento area but we reached out-of-state participants,” Garcia said. “A few highlighted were Mississippi, Pennsylvania and New York. Exciting to see that we really put the Galt Winter Bird Festival on the map of bringing awareness to the beauty of what we have in our backyard – the Cosumnes River Preserve.”

Garcia said that the virtual aspect of the event might be something to explore to add to future Winter Bird Festivals.

“I think next year we will definitely entertain offering virtual classes in addition to our live festival,” Garcia said. “This will really give us the ability to reach out to a new audience and bring advance public awareness and conservation of the region’s wildlife.”

Garcia said that the city had received other accolades from participants this year.

““I would like to take this time to commend the city of Galt for their 14th annual Winter Bird Festival,” one participant said. “I was able to attend all of the virtual events and they were excellent! Having John Muir Laws as the keynote speaker was brilliant. His talk was educational and inspiring, and his drawing classes were fantastic. Hopefully, he will be involved in future winter birding festivals. I look forward to next year’s festival; hopefully it will be able to be held in person but, if not, the city of Galt is well on its way to hosting another excellent virtual festival. Thank you for everything.”

Another participant said, ““My sister and I really enjoyed this event – we are looking forward to next year! We especially liked the drive tour – we just moved to Galt in the fall and had no idea that we were so close to the Cosumnes River Preserve! We definitely plan on enjoying this area on a regular basis!”

As with years past, the annual festival held an art contest for local students.

More than 50 students submitted art for the contest. Some of the artwork can be seen on the city of Galt Winter Bird Festival webpage.

Like any great event, this year’s festival couldn’t be done without support.

“We would like to thank Sacramento Audubon Society, Central Valley Joint Ventures, Winter Bird Festival Committee, Save our Sandhill Cranes, Cosumnes River Preserve and Cal-Waste,” Garcia said.