CACHE COUNTY — The Elk Festival offers a variety of ways to keep your kids busy this Saturday.
Centered around the beginning of the elk-viewing season, the annual event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, east of Hyrum up Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
The festival’s free family activities include making Christmas ornaments with sagebrush, bitterbrush and other plants as well as “mingling with mountain men,” according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ website.
“Did you know pinecones make great bird feeders? They do, and we’ll show you how to make one,” said Brad Hunt, manager of Hardware Ranch with DWR, in a press release.
There probably won’t be any dashing through the snow, but there will definitely be open sleighs and wagon rides, allowing visitors to travel through hundreds of wild elk. Rides last about 25 minutes, the release said.
While all other activities at the festival are free, the sleigh and wagon rides do have small fees for participants: $5 for youth and adults ages 9 and up and $3 for children ages 4-8. Tickets for children ages three and younger are free.
Payments can be made by cash, check and debit or credit cards, but cash and check are encouraged, in the event that internet service goes down, according to the DWR website.
Visitors should bring binoculars to get a better look at the elk and should be prepared for cold weather and snow.
“We’ll host the event even if it snows,” Hunt said in the press release.
Elk-viewing rides aren’t only offered the day of the festival.
The visitors’ center opens and rides begin the day before the festival on Friday, Dec. 6, from noon to 4:30 p.m. The center will be open and rides will be offered every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 9.
On Fridays, rides are offered from noon to 4:30. On Saturdays and Sundays, rides are offered from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets for rides must be purchased at the Hardware Ranch visitors’ center by 4:30 p.m.
Lines for elk-viewing rides are shorter on Sundays, the release said. For more information, visit DWR’s website or call the ranch at 435-753-6206.
At the festival on Dec. 7 there will also be lessons in making elk calls, culminating in an amateur elk-call contest at 1:30 p.m. and a veteran elk-call contest at 2 p.m. Prizes for the best calls will be provided by Sportsman’s Warehouse and Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls.