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Bighorn sheep stars of weekend festival in Radium

Headbanger Festival November 2nd-4th

Bighorn sheep are the stars of the show for the annual Headbanger Festival in Radium.

The weekend-long event is based on Radium’s most famous residents and happens during one of the most dramatic times of the year for the herd as rams battle for dominance during the annual rut.

For locals like Kara Cassidy, marketing administrator for Tourism Radium Hot Springs, there really is something remarkable about these ungulates.

“It’s pretty cool to see them when they are in their rut, absolutely at their most muscular, banging heads,” she says. “They’re certainly something that makes Radium unique … They are part of the character and charm of the community.”

It is that character and charm of the species this event happening November 2nd-4th celebrates. The Headbanger Festival includes talks, walks, and other activities for the wildlife fan in everyone.

Ms. Cassidy says one of the most popular events last year was the photography workshop with Dax Justin. He is a Canadian explorer, adventure photographer and destination storyteller. Organizers have brought him back again for this year’s festival as he brings a passion and enthusiasm for photography and makes it fun and accessible for everyone.

Not only should this workshop appeal to the amateur photographer looking to snap some bighorn shots, it would also be good for businesspeople wanting to learn more about taking pictures and editing them on their phones for social media, or even parents wanting good photos of their kids.

Workshops are centered on education of Radium’s iconic sheep as well as other wildlife. Catch the Urban Wildlife talks with Thea Rodgers, the local coordinator for WildSafe BC. She will share insights about urban wildlife biology and address issues associated with living in a major wildlife corridor.

Parks Canada offers a talk on fire and the ecosystem, looking at the importance of prescribed burns and the science behind fire ecology.

Do not miss the bighorn experience session with Kent Kebe, who brings a passion and wealth of knowledge about the local bighorn sheep as well as other area ungulates. Learn about Ram 528, Broomer, and Ralph the one-horn Bighorn.

“I really look forward to those that are really keen and ask the really interesting questions,” Mr. Kebe shares, noting he loves to share as much information as he can with locals and visitors to gain a better understanding of the bighorn sheep population in the Valley.

Saturday evening features the keynote speech and dinner. This year’s speaker is Dave Butler, presenting ‘From The Lorax to The Monkey Wrench Gang to Full Curl: the role of ‘eco-fiction’ in conservation’. Mr. Butler is a forester, biologist, novelist and photographer from Cranbrook. He’s the author of the Jenny Willson mystery series. The first novel in the series, Full Curl, won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel in Canada in 2018, and was short-listed for the 2018 RakutenKobo Emerging Writer Award in the mystery category. Mr. Butler is also Director of Sustainability at Canadian Mountain Holidays, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.

Saturday’s dinner, prepared by Edibles Café, will also include a photo presentation with Dax Justin and an ‘ask the experts’ panel session. Many of the events, including Saturday’s dinner, will be in the newly opened Radium Hot Springs Centre.

Be sure to come back Sunday for hikes, Legends of the Forest presentation, another bighorn experience session, and Paint it Wild with Black Star. Ms. Cassidy promises it will be an extra special activity this year you will not want to miss.

Know before you go:

Sheep are wild. Mr. Kebe reminds visitors to give the bighorns their space. Respect private property and, if you’re driving while searching for the photogenic creatures, respect the laws in the community. Absolutely no feeding of wildlife either. Make sure to bring a good pair of binoculars, your camera; dress warm and wear your comfiest hiking shoes. Buy your tickets early as there are limited spaces for most activities and the dinner.

Register for the Headbanger Festival by visiting www.radiumhotsprings.com/headbanger. Or call 250-347-9331.

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