ASHTON — A cookout dinner, exciting prizes, music, and a mechanical bear. There’s a community event coming up this weekend in Ashton that will be wildlife-themed that is fit for the entire family.

The Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance, a local citizen’s organization, is hosting its annual Wildlife Festival in Ashton this Saturday. It’s the second annual festival, and the alliance is partnering with various wildlife organizations to make it happen.

It will be held at the Ashton City Park from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kids participate in some games at the Wildlife Festival last year. | Courtesy Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance

“The purpose is really to celebrate the wildlife that we have … and part of it is to invite people not just to celebrate wildlife but to get engaged in conservation and informed about wildlife issues and how they can help,” said Caitlyn Wanner, project coordinator with Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance.

There will be a short program, booths at the event, Western folk-style music and games for kids. The cookout dinner will include hot dogs, hamburgers and chips. There will be a raffle full of prizes. Smokey Bear might make an appearance.

“The prizes range of upwards to $200 each, and so people could really win some great things. We are going to be having a free boat trip, free drift boat rentals, free river float, (and) we have apparel,” Wanner said.

There are additionally a lot of gift cards to local restaurants and four all-day tickets to Grizzly Wolf Discovery Center that will be raffled.

bear display
Courtesy Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance

One of the most exciting parts of the event is a “charging” mechanical bear that will be there from Idaho Fish and Game.

“It’s actually really popular. We had last year. People come specifically for that opportunity,” said Wanner.

Watch the video above to see how the mechanical bear works.

The mechanical bear allows people to experience what it’s like to be charged by a bear and practice their bear spraying skills.

eating at cookout dinner
People enjoying food at the cookout dinner last year. | Courtesy Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance

“It’s a good practice and also a learning opportunity to teach people that they need to keep their bear spray on their belt and not in their backpack,” Wanner said. “You are supposed to spray a bear. … You don’t want it too far of a distance because you want to make sure it gets right in their face, but you want to spray essentially in a big cloud at them, at their face specifically.”

Tickets to the event cost $8 per person. There is a family deal. Click here to buy tickets.

Last year, about 200 people were at the event, and this year, Wanner expects a little bit more than that. She encourages people to come and check it out.

“I think one of the big values of the festival is people showing their appreciation for wildlife, and it’s that feeling you get at every community event where we may have different views, we may enjoy wildlife in different ways, but in the end, we all appreciate what we have and recognize that it’s important,” she said.

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By Indana