As the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR) turned 60 years of age, hundreds of families from the local community turned out to enjoy a sunny day and a Birthday bash that will long be remembered. Kids enjoyed games that were popular 60 years ago such as gunny sack races and some with a wildlife twist like, "Pin the Tail on the Wolf," and "Antler Toss." There was fun, food, and lots to learn for everyone.
Unocal Alaska and Marathon Oil Company displayed the history of oil and gas development on the Refuge as well as plans for future field improvements. There were huge live birds from the Anchorage Bird Treatment and Learning Center; a pictorial history of the KNWR, and even an old fashioned barbershop quartet, "4 on the Richter Scale," from Kenai for entertainment.
A live Golden eagle was on display by the Anchorage Bird Treatment & Learning Center and provided a unique opportunity to see majestic wildlife up close at the KNWR open house.
One of the "hottest" competitions was the chili contest for which judges were imported from the regional Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage. They took their job very seriously and in the final analysis the blue ribbon went to Diane McClean, Forestry Technician for U.S. Fish & Wildlife. Her secret ingredient, chocolate chips, "I was desperate to stand out and not have ordinary chili. My son told me I was up against some pretty stiff competition, so I did some research and found that cocoa was a common ingredient in prize-winning chili. I was out of cocoa, so I threw in some chocolate chips," said McClean who intends to defend her title at next year's celebration. "I think the competitive nature of the event will probably step a notch next year, but I'll be ready, and folks will just have to come and see what I come up with," added McClean who is familiar with hot work. Diane is a prescribed burn specialist on the Refuge and even though the fire hoses were ready, nothing broke out during the party that a few antacids weren't able to take care of.
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