A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE FESTIVAL
Ospreys are so plentiful in Colonial Beach, they tended to be taken for granted by local residents. Then Joyce Reimherr had the idea to have an Osprey Festival celebrating the return of the birds to Colonial Beach every spring. Joyce recruited other bird lovers and collaborated with Downtown Colonial Beach Inc. to hold the inaugural Osprey Festival on the weekend April 12 – 14, 2019. Thanks to Joyce and her inspiration, the festival received very favorable reviews and planning for the 2020 festival began, then Covid-19 hit.
Undaunted, we mounted a “Virtual Osprey Festival” for 2020 and 2021. These “virtual” festivals recruited osprey watchers to keep track of the nests, generated gorgeous and fascinating osprey photography and paved the way for a return to the live festival on April 9, 2022. The success of the 2022 live Festival and the participation of osprey experts from around the world have set the stage for rebranding the festival in 2023. From now forward the festival will be called The Virginia Osprey Festival in Colonial Beach.
The festival’s core focus has always been sharing in-depth information on the ospreys and introducing people to the fascinating pastime of bird watching. Bird experts delivered presentations at the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, Audubon Chapter guides led bird walks and trolley nest tours were led by one of our local experts. The town’s museum curator recounted the history of Colonial Beach. Visitors also had the chance to view the nests by taking a golf cart ride around the town’s “Point” with community hosts who provided their own personal take on the ospreys and town history. There was also bird-related arts and crafts for the children.
Although the festival is officially held on a Saturday, additional events around town were added in 2022. The monthly second Friday Art Walk featured bird-themed art and a juried show of bird art was held at the Artists’ Alliance, the town’s main art gallery. Saturday night post festival revelries continued with the Grand ole O’spry Concert.
Dedications and Acknowledgements
Many dedicated people have been involved with mounting the first Osprey Festival in 2019, then the two Virtual festivals in 2020 and 2021 and our return to a live festival in 2022. Our first Osprey Festival in 2019, and our second festival mounted virtually, we dedicated to the memory of artist and gallery owner Shirl Rush, whose last act before she died the Monday after the 2019 festival was to make sure that her gallery was open that weekend and featuring osprey and wildlife art.
Artist and graphic designer Barbara Brennan and her son Ethan of B2 Design produced our beautiful vintage poster and tickets advertising the festival along with the take away souvenir program which was also a guide to bird watching on the Northern Neck. We are incalculably grateful to our two regional Osprey experts and devotees Mike Callahan and Pam Narney for without their guidance, enthusiasm and expertise the Osprey Festivals would never have gotten off the ground. They also helped us continue the festivals on a virtual basis for the last two years. Nor would those have been possible without the help of our brilliant website designer Deb Newman of Petite Taway Website Design. Much of the readability of the text on the virtual site (and this one) can be attributed to the lyrical writing of former DCB Board member Dennis Ryan.
On the second year of the virtual festival, events planner, publicist, and hot blues singer Sally Adams provided much of the coordination and recruited a sizeable flock of Osprey Watchers to report and photograph what was happening in the nests. One of those, Joanie Millward, became the unstoppable force behind the return to a live festival in 2022 and to attracting world osprey specialist Dr. Alan Poole to deliver an exclusive virtual presentation strictly for this festival. Along the way, more and more osprey, birding, nature, and wildlife enthusiasts are joining in the Colonial Beach effort to celebrate and help conserve this beautiful indicator of our planet’s well-being.