It may be one of the most unique festivals in the 209 – and Lodi is glad to have it.
Coming up in early November, it’s the annual Sandhill Crane Festival, with a focus on learning more about how good stewardship has helped the species recover from dangerously low numbers and having a chance to see the birds up close. Through the festival, the Lodi Sandhill Crane Association highlights crane conservation, offering education along with entertainment.
The festival runs Nov. 4-6 and includes some family friendly activities at Hutchins Street Square, 125 S. Hutchins St., in Lodi in addition to the nature treks and tours.
“Depending on the order of how you experience things, go see the birds somewhere in those days,” suggested festival publicity committee member Kathy Grant.
Nov. 4 will see an art show opening at Hutchins Street Square and the fine arts show will continue all weekend long. Saturday and Sunday at the square there will also be a vendor hall with exhibitors, informational tables, items for sale, food and more.
“It’s really a very social thing, many people have been coming back (through the years) just like the birds,” said Grant. “Around the building there will be workshops, speakers, a food court, art tables for kids, origami, T-shirts for sale.”
Nov. 5 and 6 will feature the tours and while many do focus specifically on the cranes, there are other options as well.
“The Delta boats go out, there are kayaking trips on the Mokelumne, just celebrating where we live,” added Grant.
But the overall draw is, by far, the cranes and it’s easy to get there to see them; off Interstate 5 along Woodbridge Road in Lodi.
“The big picture here is that this is our natural history, it’s still happening, it’s still alive and well,” said Grant, who also works for the City of Lodi as its Watershed Program Coordinator. “It’s a story about the crane migration; we have both the Greater and Lesser species, they are migrators.”
You can see the cranes early or late; the ‘fly out’ in the morning sees some of the tours at the festival onsite before dawn. On the opposite side, the ‘fly in’ as birds return to the water is also a spectacular site, with hundreds of the cranes all headed for the same destination.
“It’s one of those events, anybody who wants to understand or know about California Delta land should experience just once,” summarized Grant. “It’s primordial California.”
For more information, including prices, tour options, or Hutchins Street Square activities, visit the festival website: lodisandhillcrane.org.