Milam County Nature Festival

Nature at its Best

For five years, our annual FREE Nature Festivals were the highlight of the year, not only for our chapter members and many volunteers who worked around the year to make it a success, but for all those visitors from Milam County and surrounding areas.  Our first two festivals were held at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron – June 11-12, 2010 and April 9, 2011. Come and visit our beautiful park and Bird Sanctuary anytime. (click here for map to Cameron and Wilson-Ledbetter Park)

Our third, fourth and fifth Festivals were held at the equally beautiful Rockdale Fair Park in Rockdale Texas – April 14, 2012, April 12-13, 2013 and April 11-12, 2014. Since then, many members have participated in neighboring county’s Nature Festivals, and at this time we do not have plans for future Milam County Festivals. Bookmark this web page, so you can keep up with any future plans.  

Visit our chapter’s photo website on Google Photos to see all the fun everyone had in previous years!  We have albums there for the 2010 and 2010 photo contest2011 and 2011 photo contest, 2012 and 2012 photo contest, 2013 and 2013 photo contest, and 2014 Festivals, as well as Photo Contest results and numerous other albums for your viewing pleasure.

For details on downloading and printing photos, click this line.

All photos were uploaded in a reduced size for speed of web viewing.  If you want to have an original to make prints, view an album and click on the photo you want to open it in full screen.  On the right side properties, click the little down arrow on Photo Information, then note the filename and send it in an email to  We will return email you the original high quality photo.  All our photos are available for public non-profit and non-commercial use under Fair Use Policy.

2014 - 5th Annual Milam County Nature Festival, Friday and Saturday April 11-12th, Rockdale Fair Park

2014 – 5th Annual Milam County Nature Festival, Friday and Saturday April 11-12th, Rockdale Fair Park

Friday 7-8pm,  Saturday 9 am – 2 pm.

This year’s theme will be Habitat Conservation, with several exciting and entertaining speakers and exhibitors lined up already, as well as many of your favorite hands-on activities for kids of all ages returning again this year.

Our featured guest this year is “Mr. Habitat” Bill Oliver, also known as the “Environmental Troubadour”.  Bill Oliver 1Over twenty years of entertaining, educating, engaging and motivating at festivals, concerts, campfires, and school cafeterias.  His songs bring to life the vital issues of Habitat Conservation.  He will be at Rockdale Intermediate School on Friday afternoon at 2:30pm and performing at Rockdale Fair Park Friday evening at 7pm for a show you won’t want to miss.  On Saturday he will be joined by his “Otter Space Band” for more fun and education between 9 am and 2 pm.  Come dance and sing along with all of us.   This is his web site link.


And returning again this year is Commander Ben and his Invasive Hunter Academy.  Join him as he leads the fight against invasives and their impact on our ecosystem.  He was recently awarded the 2013 “Outstanding Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year” award from the U.S. Department of Interior, as well as receiving several other awards.  He has appeared on TV shows, spoken at numerous conferences, and been featured in various magazines.  Listen and learn as this Taekwondo suited warrior not only explains about fighting invasives but also about living and learning with dyslexia.  He will visit Milano Elementary School Friday afternoon at 2pm for a special show.  Take a look at his website here and view his blog and videos.

More expert speakers on Saturday include:

  • Wildlife Habitat Improvement with Doug Phillips, US Fish/Wildlife, discussing prescribed fires and vegetation management
  • Water Conservation with Linda Ruiz-McCall, UT Austin, including using a groundwater simulator to explain this critical process.

And many nature exhibits and activities include the following:

  • Angler Education with rods and reels.
  • Archaeology Digs like the pros, find and keep some artifacts while learning about discovery process.
  • Birds, Birds and more Birds – what’s your favorite? Lots to learn here.
  • Butterfly life cycles and habitats, and the Milano Junction Memorial Garden Project – a monarch heaven.
  • Texas Crawdads, see these live neat little creatures.
  • Pollinators, and how they help wildflowers and more.
  • Knapping demonstrations – making knives, arrowheads and more.
  • Arrowhead hunting and collecting right here in Milam County.
  • Native Grasses and their value in the world.
  • Mammal Pelts and Paws – learning how they live and about their habitats, seeing and touching skulls and pelts, and making your favorite animal track to take home using molds.
  • Little River Basin Master Gardeners and their garden habitat projects.
  • Various Nature Crafts – making your own goodies to take home.
  • The El Camino Real de las Tejas National Historic Trail that goes right through our county.
  • The “Garden of Hope” food plots project by the Rising Star Baptist Church.
  • And of course, the ever popular Face Painting – choose your favorite Wildlife creature to wear for the day.

This year we again have FREE trees to hand out, first come first served, courtesy of ALCOA and their Ten Million Tree Program.  There will be 100 Roughleaf Dogwoods, 200 Crape Myrtles (various colors), 100 Chinquapin Oaks, and 100 Mexican White Oaks. 

The Lions Clubs of Milam County will have a tent set up to do free eye screening, called Spot Vision, for children ages 9 months to 5 years, providing parents with a quick printout of any possible issues for further review or action.  Read more about this type of screening at the Spot Vision web site.  Also visit the Central Texas Lions KidSight Vision Foundation web site for more information and a brief video.

Rockdale’s iTigers will be there helping with our fun activities, and Saturday’s refreshments will be provided by Sho’ Nuff Soul Food Diner.  It’s certainly looking to be another fun and educational event.  See you there!

Download our 2014 flyer and Ad – pass it around to your friends or post it around the county.

2013 - 4th Annual Milam County Nature Festival, Friday and Saturday April 12-13 Rockdale

2013 – 4th Annual Milam County Nature Festival, Friday and Saturday April 12-13th, Rockdale

Friday evening starts things off at 7pm with a “Sounds of the Night” presentation by Lee Ann Linam, Wildlife Biologist with TPWD, on identifying the many sounds from our wildlife friends. See Lee Ann’s Bio hereThis will be followed by an outstanding National Geographic film, “Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye” on a large screen under the outdoor pavilion, complete with FREE popcorn. Feel free to bring your favorite lawn chair or seat cushion, or use the available bleachers. 

From 9:00 am until 2:00 pm on Saturday the day promises to be full of fun and educational nature presentations, activities and exhibits. The theme of the 2013 Milam County Nature Festival is “The Snakes of Milam County Texas”.

Click here to download our 2013 Festival Flyer.

Inside the New Salem Building are two great snake presentations and a live snake exhibit: 

  • 10:00 am – “Snakes of Milam County using LIVE specimens” by Tim Cole of the Austin Reptile Service. Tim is a founding member of the Austin Herpetology Society and a Certified Animal Control Officer.  His display cases holding a large variety of snakes will be on display from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. See Tim’s Bio here.
  • 11:00 am – “The Snakes of Milam County Texas” keynote presentation by Dr. Andrew Gluesenkemp, Herpatologist with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD).  Dr. Gluesenkemp will speak specifically on those snakes found in Milam County and will feature the Timber Rattler.  See Andrew’s Bio here.

Outside at individual booths, the festival will feature several other professionals speaking at different times in front of their exhibit booths, which will be open all during the festival:

  • 9:30 am and 12:00 pm “Urban Wildlife Encounters”, by Mark Klym, Information Specialist, Wildlife Diversity Program with TPWD.  All too often, when wildlife meets humans in the city, the results are not the best for wildlife.  This program will look at some of the species we are likely to encounter in our central Texas towns and how we can share our space with them safely – to the enjoyment of all involved. See Mark’s Bio here.
  • 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, “Feral Hogs”, by John Tomacek, PhD candidate in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M. 
  • 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, “Wildlife Habitat Improvement Through Prescribed Fire and Vegetation Management”, by Chris Harper, Private Lands Biologist, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Special Attraction: “Commander Ben” (Ben Shrader), the Invasive Species Hunter, will bring his Invasive Hunter Academy Program for the educational enjoyment of children and adults alike. Are you ready to protect your native species, battle against invasive species, and have fun at the same time? Join the academy and learn how to spot invasive plants, defeat enemies with your Invasive Hunter moves, and create an action diorama that you can take home to capture your battle with invasives.  Be one of the few. The proud. The fighting naturalists! Come hear what this amazing 14 year old has to say.  See his web page here. See Ben’s Bio here.

Numerous additional nature venues and exhibits will be ongoing throughout the day.  This would include areas such as:

  • Welcome Booth, with days agenda and map, a snake safety article, and free kids backpacks until they last 
  • Butterflies and the new Monarch Garden project
  • Pollinators and Bee Keeping
  • Native Grasses
  • Houston Toads
  • Texas Snakes Display 
  • Fish Habitats, what’s in water?
  • Texas Crawdads
  • Knapping Demonstrations
  • Farm Bureau’s Learning Barn display
  • Texas AgriLife Display 
  • El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Display
  • Alcoa’s tree giveaway at the entrance gate, 500 available 1st come 1st served
  • And more …

Hands on activities for the kids include many favorites from past years, as well as some new ones. The Rockdale iTigers will be assisting and conducting several of these.

  • Face Painting
  • Animal Balloon making
  • “You in Nature” photos to take with you 
  • Backyard Bass Angling
  • Making animal tracks from molds
  • Making Binoculars from tissue tubes
  • Conducting an Archaeological Dig like the pros 

At 2:00 pm the Photo Contest Awards Ceremony will be held.  Our Nature Photo Contest is another great attraction of the festival.  Come into the New Salem building anytime to see all the great nature photos that were submitted and who won ribbons. The Nature Photography contest submission deadline is Friday March 29.  For all the details, visit our photo page.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase during the day from the New Salem Home Demonstration Club.

This free event has something for adults and children of all ages.  Spend the night in Rockdale to see what our town has to offer.  For hotel information call the Chamber of Commerce at 512-446-2030, or visit or

Friday April 12th at 7pm, and Saturday April 13 9am-2pm.  Rain or shine.

Rockdale Fair Park, 200 Walnut St, Rockdale Tx.

2012 - 3rd Annual Milam County Nature Festival, April 14, Rockdale

2012 – 3rd Annual Milam County Nature Festival, April 14th, Rockdale

This year’s festival will be the first to be held at the Rockdale Fair Park, 200 Walnut Street, Rockdale, TX 76567. And it will be held rain or shine.

The United Nations has declared 2011-2012 as “The year of the Bat”, and we named it our Festival Mascot for 2012.  We have several activities featuring this amazing flying mammal. For lots of great Bat information, and how to get more involved, go to Bat Conservation International’s web site.

We’ll have lots of events and activities enjoyed in previous years, and have added a number of new ones this year for your family’s enjoyment.  Come early and stay late…9am – 3pm…and enjoy nature with us!

Click here to download out 2012 flyer.


Welcome and Chapter Information Booths – brief sign in sheet; pick up map, schedule of events and backpacks for kids and their goodies; general information on Nature and Master Naturalists.

Nature Photography Contest

  • Deadline for submissions has been extended to Wednesday April 4, 2012.  See our photo page for entry information.
  • View all entries during the day, and come to Awards Ceremony at 2:15pm in New Salem building

Inside Presentations in the New Salem Building:

  • 9:15 am – 10:15 am — Bats and Bat Houses, by John Byrd – learn how to attract and house thousands of bats from the guy who has just about eliminated insects and insecticides from his pecan orchard and now has a bat population that would rival many bridge populations
  • 10:30 am – 11:30 am — Lasagna for Hummingbirds and Butterflies, by Mark Klym, Information Specialist on Wildlife Diversity at TPWD – learn how to set up your own buffet to attract these beautiful and useful creatures in your own backyard, you’ll be glad you did
  • 11:45 am – 12:45 am — Wildflower Legends and Folklore, by Flo Oxley, Adjunct Professor, Austin Community College – hear some fascinating and humorous tales regarding the ancient Indian,  Greek and other mythological origins on the naming and historic use of many wildflowers.  Don’t miss this topic!
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm — Impacts of Drought on Fish and Wildlife Resources, by Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director TPWD, and Rockdale native and H.S. graduate – hear his insight and wisdom on this important topic
  • 2:15pm – Award Ceremony for Nature Photo Contest Winners

Nature exhibits and demonstrations

  • Bats – come and be a little “batty” with us, and learn all about their benefits, local sighting places, as well as the White Nose Syndrome endangering some species
  • Bees and beehives – from a local bee keeper and honey maker – see if you can find the queen bee
  • Birds – how to attract birds; field guides and lots of information; wren and bluebird houses and other items for sale
  • Bryophytes and lichens – examine these interesting life forms with provided eye loupes, and learn about features from the Curator of A&M’s S. M. Tracy Herbarium, Dale Kruse
  • Backyard Wildlife – examine TPWD’s collection of pelts and skeletons of familiar animals
  • Texas Crawdads – see and learn about their unique “volcano looking” homes and habitats
  • Firewise landscaping – what to plant and not to plant to reduce fire hazards
  • Jams and Jellies – organic of course
  • Knapping – (no, not sleeping), learn how the Indians made arrowheads and more.
  • Pollinators – what they do, their importance to life cycle of all plants, how to attract them
  • Prairie Dogs – from the Austin Zoo, alive and cute, but not the adopting kind of dog
  • Native Grasses – learn about your favorites and their unique value, how to ID and to plant your own
  • Nature Bracelets – buy your favorite
  • Toads – The Houston Zoo presents the endangered Houston Toad, see toads master a maze, and listen to amphibian love calls
  • TPWD Hunting and Fishing Trailer – see some great trophies, and learn right from wrong
  • El Camino Real National Historic Trail – learn about this “Kings highway” used by early explorers and settlers, which goes right through Milam County and perhaps even your own backyard.
  • Exhibits and information by the 4-H Club, Girl Scouts, the American Legion, Milam County Retired Teachers and TRIAD, and more.
  • And Smokey the Bear will be wondering about, with handouts and personal interaction with children on fire prevention

Hands on activities specifically for the kids (of any age!):

  • Angler Education / Fly Casting – learn and practice safe casting with different reels in one on one training
  • Animal Track Molds – make your favorite wild animal foot print molds using plaster
  • Archeology Digs – learn techniques used by experts, and do your own “dig” to find some ancient artifacts
  • Birds – learn to ID nests and about preferred nesting materials, make your own bird feeders using pine cones, peanut butter and seeds
  • Binocular crafts – make your own with tissue tubes, coloring and a little creativity
  • Bats – make your own “bat” to wear proudly
  • Pollinating bees – make a bee house and solve pollination puzzles
  • Insect collecting – the Jr Master Gardeners will teach a live insect collection method, and build your own collector to take home.
  • Wildflowers –  learn seed planting skills and make seed starter eco-pots out of newspaper, learn the parts of wildflowers
  • Face Painting – get a butterfly on your cheek, a snake on your bald head, a spider on your nose, or you name it anywhere you want it

And good breakfast (breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy); lunch (hot dogs, chili, nachos, frito pies); and drinks and desserts provided by the New Salem Club – come hungry, leave satisfied.

See you all there!!

2011 - 2nd Annual ilam County Nature Festival, April 9th, Cameron

2011 – 2nd Annual Milam County Nature Festival, April 9th, 2011, Cameron

Another beautiful day in the Park was enjoyed by about 1200 visitors this year!  Under the capable leadership of Sue Taylor and Donna Lewis, co-coordinators for this years festival,  a lot of last years great activities were enhanced and repeated, and a lot of new ones were introduced.

The Horned Lizard was selected as this years Festival Mascot, and we had a little extra attention given to these neat creatures and their habitats.

You can download and print off a pdf version of our Nature Festival 2011 flyer that was posted around the county and elsewhere.  And also get a copy of our Agenda / Map Brochure that was given out at the Festival.

These are the list of activities, exhibits  and presentations that were held:

  • Welcome Tent—sign in, days schedule of events, free backpacks for kids, neat nature items for sale
  • Photography Contest
    • March 31 submission deadline – see our photo page for details.
    • Awards Presentation 2pm at Ladies Auxiliary Building
  • Inside presentations in the American Legion Building:
    • 9:30 am “Snakes alive, the reptiles of Central Texas”, by Bill Brooks
    • 11:00 am “The Spirit of El Camino Real”, by Lucile Estell and Joy Graham, and
    • 1:00 pm “Horned Lizards in Texas, our state reptile”, by Carolyn Todd
  • “Wildflower Treasures” Presentation, at 10am and noon
    • At the Wildflower Patch, by Flo Oxley, Director Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
  • Nature Presentations on the hour from 9am-2pm, at booths around the lake, with ongoing exhibits.
    • Bees and Pollination
    • Horned Lizards
    • Snakes and Reptiles
    • Native Grasses
    • Texas Parks and Wildlife
    • AgriLife Extension Service
  • Ongoing Nature Exhibits around the lake
    • Bats
    • Birds
    • Harvester Ants
    • Knapping
    • And special visitors from Cameron Park Zoo
  • Kids hands on activities
    • Archaeological Dig
    • Pollinators
    • Animal Track Molds
    • Scavenger Hunts
    • Junior Master Gardener
    • Wildflowers, and
    • Face Painting
  • Wildlife Control—by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Fire Prevention with Smokey the Bear—by Texas Forest Service
  • Wonderful Food vendors
  • Wildlife products vendors

The photography contest was again a great success.


2010 - 1st Annual Milam County Nature Festival, June 11-12, Cameron

2010 – 1st Annual Milam County Nature Festival, June 11-12, 2010, Cameron

And now, here’s a little about our recent 2010 Festival including some great photos, and lots of details on the Festival content.

Our First Annual Milam County Nature Festival was a great success, thanks to our many volunteers, presenters, financial contributors, vendors and most of all everyone who came to enjoy Nature at it’s Best!

We have some great photos of the event capturing the highlights and showing everyone having a fantastic time. Please visit our photo website to view two albums, one labeled “Nature Festival 2010” and our winning photo contest entries are in the “Nature Festival Photo Contest 2010” album. You’re welcome to view all our other albums there as well.  Enjoy!

This chapter owned event was held on Friday afternoon / evening and Saturday daytime, June 11 and 12, 2010 at Wilson Ledbetter Park in Cameron.  Planning for it took almost a year for many dedicated volunteers and based on feedback from many attendees, it was extremely well received, and appreciated by visitors from Milam County and many surrounding areas.

Key concepts of the 2010 Festival are described in the following two pages, and down-loadable files are here:

Below are the details on 2010


Take a look at other Festivals at My Fairs and Festivals

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