Return home

Great Swamp Hibernation Festival fun for all

Casey Pritchard
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 2/18/23

The Great Swamp Conservancy in Canastota was abuzz with excitement at their Winter Hibernation Festival on Saturday.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Great Swamp Hibernation Festival fun for all


CANASTOTA — While there are still roughly four more weeks of winter, and many wild animals are still in winter hibernation mode, the Great Swamp Conservancy, at 8375 N. Main St., was abuzz with excitement at their Winter Hibernation Festival on Saturday.

The GSC’s annual festival sees the greater community get together to celebrate winter, the year of the coyote, the great outdoors, and teach the children to love nature — and this year was no different.

GSC Environmental Educator Jack Silky was there in front of the coyote display, ready to answer any and all questions about the wild canines — or to make any young guest giggle with his coyote hand puppet. While he was doing that, GSC Environmental Educator Gina Sciarra manned the face painting station and spoke with children before they hit up the next exhibit.

“It’s coming on to be my first full year here at the Great Swamp, and we’re looking to make it our biggest year yet,” Silky said. “GSC Director Rusty Patane, Gina, and I are expanding public outreach and programs to get anyone and everyone involved.”

At the Hibernation Festival, turnout was great despite the early morning cold and lack of snow.

“The Hibernation Festival is a great way to get people out of their houses and enjoy themselves during the winter,” Silky said.

Among the guests was Miles Henderson and his seven-year-old son Ethan. The two Rome natives have been a part of the GSC for the past few years, and Henderson said he does his best to bring Ethan out to the Great Swamp to explore nature — rather than be stuck in front of a screen.

“We come out for all of the GSC’s events,” he said. “By keeping Ethan outdoors, I’m keeping him away from the screens. And that’s more important now. If you get your kids interested in the outdoors, they’ll want to be outdoors.”

Ethan said he’s looking forward to the GSC’s Swamp Tromp — a hike for children through GSC’s many trails — comes back when the weather’s nice. At the Winter Hibernation festival, Ethan had fun with not just the winter exhibits, but the fossil exhibit on display at the GSC.

Looking ahead

All manner of fossils from prehistoric bugs and ancient dinosaurs to mammoth teeth and more, are on display at the GSC until March 10.

“Coming up is our major festival, the Spring Migration festival kicks off May 7,” Silky added. “That’s going to be bigger, with music, games, activities, and more.”

For more information about the Great Swamp Conservancy, upcoming events, how to volunteer, and more, visit


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here