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Cleansing The Palate And Spitting Up Feathers: The International Festival Of Owls

Alice the Great Horned Owl.
Images By Ingvalson
Alice the Great Horned Owl.

Now and then, I exploit the wonderful librarians at NPR by browsing their calendar of events and anniversaries in an effort to see what's going on in the world. Popular culture, of course, is a broad term, and there's a lot more to it than television and movies and your typical screen-and-print fare. When it's been a week packed with controversy or unpleasantness or simply exhaustion, I like a palate cleanser, and that's one of the many reasons the world has librarians.

This morning, I learned that this is the weekend of the International Festival Of Owls, held in Houston, Minnesota, at the Houston Nature Center. (Houston is way down in the very southeast corner of Minnesota.) The festival began in 2003 (making this the tenth owl-iversary, a term I am sure they are far too cool to use) with the hatching of Alice, The Great Horned Owl. And now, they bill it as "the only full-weekend, all-owl event in North America." That's right. No distractions. No lions, no eagles, no puppies, no bunnies. This is an all-owl event.

Included on the schedule are an Owl Face Pancake Breakfast, Owl Pellet Dissection (which costs $5 a pellet, so you're sure to get the best clump of bones and fur/feathers that the owl threw up that day), and the thing that sounds to me, personally, like the best thing that could possibly happen at an owl festival: the Kids Owl-Calling Contest, elsewhere called the "Kids Hooting Contest." There is a kids' hooting contest in Houston, Minnesota this weekend, is what I am telling you, and the fact that I can't attend it is making my formerly Midwestern heart completely unironically depressed.

But what makes the International Festival Of Owls so much fun that I basically read every single thing on their web site is that they're not mad that you're probably thinking up owl puns right now. They are, too. They refer to their awards ceremony (where they honor both owls and people) as a "hoo's hoo" of owl-related greatness.


They also list the Top 10 reasons to attend their festival, and #1 is this: "What else is there to do in Minnesota in early March???"

Welcome to your Thursday. It will be spring soon. Until then, if you can find anything in your area that sounds as good as the International Festival Of Owls, I encourage you to pack up the car and go. Immediately.

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