View Full Version : Chigger Festival February 3rd

01-29-2007, 08:24 PM
Martin Park Chigger Festival Set for February 3

Amateur hikers and naturalists will get a unique opportunity to explore the little-known backwoods area of Martin Park Nature Center on Saturday, February 3, during the park’s annual Chigger Festival. Naturalist Neil Garrison will take visitors on a guided tour of the park, which will include a trip to many of the park’s most remote sections. Tours begin at 3 p.m.; reservations and a $2 fee are required. Cameras are welcome.

“The remote backcountry of the park is usually off-limits to the public,” said Garrison. “We try to limit access to those areas so they may be preserved as part of our wildlife sanctuary and conservation program.”

Several of the park’s resident animals, including deer, bobcats and owls, populate this little seen section of the park.

“Martin Park spans 140 acres,” noted Garrison. “That’s approximately 140 football fields put together. We have to keep part of that open for the animals, otherwise our wildlife populations would suffer because many species are sensitive to excessive human disturbance.”

Lucky participants may catch a rare, up-close glimpse of some of the park’s approximate 200 species of wildlife. “Several of our owl species live in the back corners of the park,” said Garrison. “They hide out back there and rarely venture out until sundown, when the park is closed to the public. This is a great opportunity for folks to see, and even photograph, some of our more shy creatures.”

As for the festival’s strange name? “There are no chiggers back there this time of year,” said Garrison. “But because we don’t do any type of pest control in our park, the backwoods area is especially teeming with ticks, chiggers and even non-venomous snakes during the warmer months. This time of year, we can celebrate their being dormant.”

To make reservations for the Chigger Festival, call Martin Park Nature Center at (405) 755-0676. The park is located at 5000 West Memorial Road, approx. ½ mile west of Mercy Hospital. Martin Park is operated and maintained by Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department. The park is open free to the public Wednesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except between Christmas and New Year’s.