ARLINGTON – At the annual Eagle Festival in Arlington, visitors didn’t just find the iconic birds in riverfront trees or soaring overhead.
They found eagles carved in wood, eagles drawn on canvas or paper and, courtesy of Sarvey Wildlife Center, live and up close in the City Council chambers at an open house, along with a menagerie of hawks and other birds of prey.
Hundreds of people filled downtown Arlington Feb. 2-3 for the annual winter festival that marks the return of eagles to the Stillaguamish River.
The weekend offers guided nature walks, art shows, demonstrations, exhibits, chainsaw carving and other activities that highlight the country’s national bird, which is now more than a decade removed from the endangered species list thanks to recovery of eagle populations.
Still, if observers missed the chance to view eagles during the nature walks, there was one place where they were sure see one in person, indoors and out of the rain.
A star attraction at the festival is the 20-year-old bald eagle, Freedom, who makes her home at Sarvey in Arlington.
The eaglet was found in 1998 when she fell out of a nest in Edmonds, breaking both wings, and severely emaciated since she had not been eating for a long time, Sarvey volunteer Robert Lee said.
“She was literally that close to dying,” he said. “If she would have been picked up just a couple of hours later she probably wouldn’t have made it.”
Sarvey staff and veterinarians were able to fix the eagle’s right wing and nurse her back to health, but the left wing is frozen in place at the elbow, so she can no longer fly, Lee said.
Sarvey volunteers said they look forward to the Eagle Festival open house each year because the atmosphere is casual.
“We can meet a much broader audience here,” Lee said, as children and parents squeezed in close for smart phone photos with Freedom. “It also gets people a closer look at the animals. Sometimes in structured programs, we have to keep a certain amount of distance away from participants.”
Freedom made an eagles fan of several children and adults – among them, the Turrone family from Arlington.
Son Robbie, clutching his stuffed Bald Eagle, called Freedom “cute, big and friendly,” and that’s why he likes her.
His mom, Jennifer, added, “He likes anything American and patriotic – an eagle, the American flag.”
The largest – and noisiest – outdoor attraction featured some of the Northwest’s award-winning chainsaw carvers busy at their craft for the Extreme Chainsaw Sculpture Event in the Legion Park parking lot.
Chainsaw sculptor Bruce “Thor From Earth” Thorsteinson has been a regular at the event, he said, after adding touch-up white spray paint to his latest eagle sculpture creation.
“Not big on eagles – kind of a new direction for me,” Thorsteinson said. The owner of Thor Creations in Kent has been chainsaw sculpting for two decades, a painter turned sculptor who is also a sought-after muralist, with dramatic designs in Tacoma and, coming soon, Ocean Shores.
Through his talents, he has “toured the world by chainsaw,” to invitational events and locales as varied as Japan, Germany and Scotland.
“It’s kind of surreal how you’ll be hired to go to these seemingly out of the way places and fields,” he said. “The places will be empty and barren, and then crowds show up out of nowhere.”
Unlike the traditional stock wood finish tones more common to chainsaw art, he uses a significant amount of colors in his work, which includes Viking ships, lighthouses, cats and alligators. A king crab-sized sculpture sold in minutes, with his signature “Thor” inscribed on the bottom.
Thorsteinson said he really enjoys coming to the Arlington festival.
2018 Rock, Paper, Scissors Art Show Art Show Results
1st – Debra Hoskins
2nd – Roger W. Patterson
3rd – Jessica Coronado
1st – Nick Seegert
2nd – Robert Funston
3rd – Sarah Arney
1st – Vicki Johnson
2nd – Crystal Campbell
3rd – Harmony Fronterhouse
1st – Laura Goldberg
2nd – Candice Morth
3rd – Carole Williams
Youth – 10 and under
1st – Nash Miller
2nd – Jovani Martinez Hernandez
3rd – Tzadkiel Fronterhouse
Youth – 11-17
1st – Michael Willem
2nd – Serenity Davis