New art contest announced in conjunction with annual festival – Yahoo News

Jan. 4—fayetteville — The organizers of the annual New River Birding & Nature Festival are adding a new wrinkle to this year's 21st festival, slated for May 1-6.
The New River Birding & Nature Festival was founded as the major supporter of the Fayette County Education Fund (FCEF), Inc., a registered 501C3 local nonprofit geared to supporting the youth of Fayette County, and in 2023, county students are invited to be involved.
The FCEF is the parent organization of Leadership Fayette County and a variety of environmentally focused programs delivered in the outdoor wetlands and woodlands classroom at the New River Birding & Nature Center in Wolf Creek Park, according to the festival's website.
"It is the mission of the FCEF to secure the future of Fayette County by providing relevant leadership training and environmental education to the community with an emphasis on youth. … The FCEF is an important organization in leading our county down a path to strengthen sustainable growth initiatives. Through various programs, local youth gain important knowledge and are better informed about the area to make the decision to return upon completion of their higher education," it is stated on the website at
In yet another effort to involve the county's youth, the festival this year is introducing the Feathered Lovelies Youth Art Contest.
"Fayette County high school students, teachers, and youth: Do you like birds and making art?" FLY Art Challenge Coordinator Jodi French-Burr asked in a press release. "Then help others learn about these feathered fliers by entering this year's new FLY Art Challenge, a Feathered Lovelies Youth art contest, part of the 2023 New River Birding & Nature Festival.
"This art challenge is a student competition celebrating birds of the New River Gorge through art. Through this program and the spring online exhibit, students will have the opportunity as community leaders to raise awareness of the diversity of avian species in the region and bird conservation, plus help a county youth education initiative," French-Burr said.
The festival, which debuted in 2002, draws bird watchers from across the nation to the New River Gorge area in the heart of the upland, hardwood forests that Cornell Lab of Ornithology identified as a crucial stopover habitat for the continued survival of species such as golden-winged, blue-winged, and Swainson's warbler, as well as the scarlet tanager.
"You won't find rows of vendor tables with cool stuff from interesting places," according to, but "You will find dinner tables with all kinds of folks from all sorts of places who enjoy exploring the phenomena of the physical world. A friendly bird and nature watching vacation for everyone, we offer a variety of daily guided birding and nature excursions, world-class speakers, the finest collection of guides, tasty food, and a back-porch atmosphere unmatched by any other birding festival. Signature guided bird watching experiences include opportunities to visit a wide range of habitats, world class instruction for those wanting to enhance their skills, and the best guide-to-guest ratio on the festival circuit. All skill levels are welcome."
With their eyes on the varied wildlife habitats of the New River Gorge and region, the festival-goers search for birds and other wildlife at the peak of area avian migration in early May, French-Burr said. "These bird watchers search to see birds and learn more about these feathered lovelies. Over 190 bird species have been seen at the event since its start in 2002. This new art contest gives local youth a chance to be part of the program that draws bird watchers from near and far."
Twenty pieces of bird art will be selected for an online exhibit. The top five art pieces will be framed and put on display at the 2023 New River Birding & Nature Festival and put up for purchase in the festival's silent auction, both of which will raise funds for the FCEF.
The top five artists will also earn a money award, French-Burr pointed out, a percentage of the funds raised through the auction.
Following are the contest rules: The art contest is open to all ninth through 12th grade students of Fayette County. Youth can enter art independently or through their school or youth organization. Artists can use varied mediums to create handmade art inspired by a bird of the New River Gorge area. The 2023 contest rules, a list of accepted bird species, and entry form are available online at
Contest entry window: Jan. 5 to Feb. 18. Submit photos of handmade, two-dimensional bird art and completed entry form by email to Finalists will receive a certificate, festival T-shirt, and their art displayed in a spring online exhibit. The top five entries will be framed and sold at the 2023 New River Birding & Nature Festival silent auction. These five artists will get 50 percent of their piece's auction price, while the other 50 percent will go to Fayette County Education Fund, Inc. to support youth programs in this area.
"Celebrate birds of the New River Gorge through the FLY Art Challenge," French-Burr urged.
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