The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 21, 2013

Bob Garrett;s No child Left Indoors column

Festival honors legend of Ned Smith


Daily Item

---- — "The Earth has music for those who listen."

Much like the iconic Saturday Evening Post cover illustration, "Gone Fishing" by Norman Rockwell, "Gone for the Day" is part of the fabric of our outdoor heritage. The late Ned Smith was the author of the "Gone for the Day" articles that were one of the Pennsylvania Game News' most enduring and anticipated columns. Smith was a self-trained naturalist and artist. Over the years, he created nearly 120 cover illustrations for the Pennsylvania Game News, Pennsylvania Angler, Sports Afield, National Wildlife, National Geographic and other magazines and journals. Personally, I always carry a leaflet that Ned Smith wrote, illustrated and published about how to field dress a deer, while I'm hunting whitetail.

Ned Smith was a truly gifted "scribbler" with a knack for writing in a simple, interesting and understandable manner. The "Gone for the Day" series, were actually his field notes of the observations that he made while afield along with delightful pen-and-ink drawings. This series is available in a book by the same name. After his death in 1985, land along the Wiconisco Creek just outside of Millersburg was purchased with the dream of building an environmental and art center there. In 2002, then Gov. Mark Schweiker gave a huge boost to the dream by presenting a $2 million dollar check to Smith's widow, Marie Smith. The dream of a center became a reality the next year with the dedication of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art.

nature and art are certainly at the core of this center. But it's much more. Today, the center is a haven for outdoor education, appreciation and recreation. The center is surrounded by more than 500 acres of rolling river hills and dells that contain more than 12 miles of trails.

For the past two decades, Ned Smith Center staff and volunteers along with just about every resident of Millersburg have worked together to welcome thousands of visitors to their riverside hamlet for their annual Nature and Arts Festival. The festival is a veritable one-stop-shop to experience everything that the out-of-doors has to offer in a single location. For children wanting to make sure that they're not left indoors, this festival is a "must-attend" event. I just can't think of a better place (other than the R.B. Winter Snowfest; but of course, it's cold there) to learn and do more fun activities in the outdoors.

The 20th Annual Ned Smith Festival of Arts and Nature is scheduled for next Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Millersburg Town Park along the bank of the Susquehanna River. To give you some idea of the kinds of activities that will be going on, do yourself and your family a favor and visit the Ned Smith Center's web site at: www.nedsmithcenter.org for a complete list of events.

You'll be blown away with how much is planned for your whole family to enjoy.

Outdoors-related events

ZooAmerica, the well-known Hershey Park animal attraction, will have live North American critters at the festival as part of their Paws, Claws, Scales and Tails demonstration. There will be a kid-specific and friendly set of demonstrations that's titled "Sharing Traditions with Children," which includes programs such as: The Buzz of the Honeybee, The Amazing Insect World, Butterfly Magic and Wildlife Art. Grownups might like to sit in on workshops such as Creating a Culinary Herb Garden with a Native Flare or Making Fly Selections based on Major Hatches or maybe the Edible Wild Plants session that will include a bonus program on making shagbark hickory syrup. Family Fishing is another program that's sure to delight anyone, particularly kids, looking to get outside more this summer.

Art-related events

It's no surprise that art-related offerings are plentiful and diverse at the festival. For example, some of these hands-on workshops include Taxidermy from Start to Finish, Wildlife Art Using Coffee and Sunlight Photography

Music-related events

Music is a key element to a great festival. This year, a family bluegrass band all the way from Westerville, Ohio, will perform several times during the day. The Twin Valley Players, a community theater ensemble, will perform always-popular selections from their current show: The Sound of Music. The Pennsylvania Regional Ballet will be bringing their grace and pose to the riverside festival.

Other great stuff

If all of that isn't enough for you and your family members, maybe you could learn how to attract bluebirds to your backyard, or find out about local bird-watching sites, or hear about the fall and now the rebound of the American chestnut tree. A couple other events include photographing butterflies, moths and birds as well as the important work of the Susquehanna Service Dogs.

Probably, the most impressive event of the whole day is the Mid-Atlantic Disc Dogs competition. These dogs seem to defy gravity as they leap sky high to grab the Frisbee-like discs between their teeth. The competition starts early and runs into the afternoon, so plan to get to the festival as soon as possible to make sure that you don't miss any of the action.

If you've never had a chance to visit Millersburg, trust me, it's a very nice town and it's easy to get to. If you live in Northumberland County or in the Danville area, just follow the river down Route 147. If you are traveling from Snyder or Union counties, you're really in luck. Take Route 15 south to the Millersburg Ferry Campground and then catch the Roaring Bull or the Falcon ferry boat across the river. This ferry ride is always good fun and you'll be riding on what's believed to be the last existing wooden double stern-wheel paddle boat in the United States.

n Email comments to garrettoutdoors@gmail.com.