If your reaction was something like, “Huh? That came out of nowhere!” then you know exactly how I felt when my boss told me that the Anasazi State Park would be hosting a beaver festival this weekend. When I passed this information on to my mother later, she took it in stride:
Mom: The beaver is probably the state animal.
Me: I don't think it is, Mom.
Mom: No, I bet it is! Mormons would love the beaver.
Mom: Because it's a hard-working and industrious animal! They love that stuff!
She's so weird sometimes.
(Also, I looked it up, and the state animal is the Big Horn Sheep, not the beaver. I'm not sure what that says about the Mormons. I'll have to ask Mom.)
So the reason that this whole Beaver Festival exists is because Utah is trying to reintroduce beavers into areas where they were hunted into extinction in the last century. It turns out that Garfield County is one such location, and so beaver-related efforts are happening around Boulder. There were tables from the Forest Service, Southern Utah University, the Grand Canyon Trust, and other nature-related organizations. Kids were offered activities like making beaver tails out of construction paper, but to be honest the only people I saw sporting them were the college-aged volunteers.
Pin the tail on the intern! ...Waitaminute...
The children were far more interested in the animals brought in by the Hogle Zoo. There was a tortoise, a screech owl, a lizard and a snake, and whenever their handlers brought a new animal out all the kids flocked to see it.
A stage was set up on the grassy area in front of the museum, and musicians played all day long. It had a real festival atmosphere, and the crowd on the front lawn drew in tourists passing through town, so we were quite busy inside the museum, too.
Unfortunately, the weather didn't feel like cooperating, and midafternoon the skies cracked open and rain poured down. Everyone rushed inside the museum to see if the storm was just a passing shower or if were doomed to stormclouds for the rest of the day. After about twenty minutes, the rain had stopped completely, so the festivities were able to resume out on the lawn. Right around closing time, a second storm came, and this time people just left.
But it was a cute little festival, and I even got to take home a souvenir - a Smokey the Bear bandanna.