(Port Aransas, TX) – Attendees at the annual Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas this past weekend certainly “whooped it up.” Deemed the best ever event in its eighteen year history, the festival had over 700 registered participants from 30 states and six different Canadian provinces, many of whom flew in just for the festival. “It appears that our festival is becoming well known far and wide, due to many factors,” stated Ann Bracher Vaughan, President and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce who is the host entity of the festival. “Since our area is the only place where you can view the lone natural migrating flock of the endangered Whooping Crane, and Port Aransas caters to birders with its many enhanced and improved nature spots, it’s only natural that the popularity of both the festival and our community continues to grow,” she continued.

For the first time ever, featured experts from all four of the Whooping Crane conservation and reintroduction areas, including Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territory of Canada gathered together at a public festival/event to describe their efforts. “Rob Kent, WBNP Superintendent’s outstanding presentation about the park and the nesting grounds of the cranes set a record attendance for any presentation during the festival’s history,” according to Vaughan. “And, Dr. George Archibald, foremost crane authority in the world and co-founder of the International Crane Foundation draws almost as many followers as the cranes themselves.”

There was activity all around town with birding bus and boat trips, photography workshops and field trips, a nature related trade show, children’s activities, and more. Expert birders were at each of the local nature sites to assist the over 1,500 visitors who took the opportunity to spot the many species that are customary in Port Aransas.

“The only limiting factor for future years is the capacity to which we can accommodate increased attendance,” stated Vaughan. Numerous local partners contribute significantly to provide the venues that render this a community-involved festival. Major sponsors included Cheniere, Eagle Optics, Flint Hills Resources, HEB, Port Corpus Christi, and Swarovski Optik, and local partners The University of Texas Marine Science Institute and the City of Port Aransas.

Next year’s festival date is February 19-22, 2015 in Port Aransas with planning already started.