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Refuge to celebrate 75th anniversary at ‘Ding’ Darling Day

By REFUGE / DDWS - | Nov 17, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED The “Go the Distance” bike tour and plein-air artists are part of this year’s “Ding” Darling Day.

In deference to pandemic complications, this year’s “Ding” Darling Day moved to Dec. 1, in concert with the 75th Anniversary Celebration at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. In keeping with CDC protocols, the refuge has scaled back activities to present a relaxed engaging day outdoors interacting with nature.

Wildlife Drive will be open for free from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Environmental exhibitors and plein-air artists will be spread along the Visitor & Education Center parking lot, Indigo Trail and Wildlife Drive.

A Ding-O Bingo Scavenger Hunt will allow attendees to self-tour the exhibits in an engaging but distanced manner and win a prize for completion. Scavenger hunt forms will be available online at dingdarlingdays.com and that day at the information table at the bottom of the center’s ramp.

Other free activities will include a four-mile, ranger-guided “Go the Distance” bike tour at 9:30 a.m. and a 1 p.m. 75th Anniversary Presentation with acting Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea and dignitaries, outdoors in the parking lot area. Also in the lot, 2021 “Ding” Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce will do nature art demonstrations, and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge will display the winning photos from its 2020 “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest.

“‘Ding’ Day may look entirely different this year, but it still has the same mission to get families and others out to the refuge and exploring and learning about the great outdoors,” event Committee Chair and Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said. “We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate our official 75th anniversary date on Dec. 1 with friends and neighbors as safely as possible. We will be building a time capsule that day. It will go on display thereafter in the Visitor & Education Center.”

“Thanks to our faithful sponsors, who have helped turn this into a day of celebration that ends with a ticketed 1940s drive-in theater gala in the evening,” DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller, who is serving as the gala host and co-sponsor of “Ding” Darling Day, said.


– 7 a.m.: Wildlife Drive opens for free

– 9 a.m.: Information table opens with scavenger hunt forms and hand-outs. Wildlife Drive/Indigo Trail and parking lot stations open for safe self-touring.

– 9:30 a.m.: Ranger-guided, four-mile “Go the Distance” Distanced Bike Tour on Wildlife Drive (bring your own bicycle and helmet and meet at the flagpole)

– 1 p.m. 75th Anniversary Presentation in the parking lot

ONGOING ACTIVITIES (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

– Exhibitors along Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail, CROW exhibit in parking lot

“Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest Winners display in parking lot

– Art demonstrations by 2021 Resident Artist Rachel Pierce in parking lot

– USFWS Law Enforcement Trailer in parking lot

– USFWS Fire Demo in parking lot

– Mobile Nature Store in parking lot

– Scavenger hunt with prizes

– Plein-air artists in parking lot and on Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail

For more information, visit dingdarlingdays.com.