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Outdoor recreation, nature focus of JAKES Day

Fishing is just one of the several free outdoor activities offered at this year’s JAKES Day festival at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on May 10. (Special Photo)

Fishing is just one of the several free outdoor activities offered at this year’s JAKES Day festival at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on May 10. (Special Photo)

The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield will once again offer a day-long family outing complete with food, activities and educational demonstrations, and the price is right — it’s all free.

JAKES Day takes place at CEWC from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 10, and is designed for children and their parents to spend time outdoors learning about outdoor recreational sports like boating, fishing and hunting as well as environmental topics such as wildlife, habitats and conservation efforts.

The popular rain-or-shine event draws about 1,500 people and often times the crowds start arriving well before the 10 a.m. opening time.

“We tell our vendors to be ready,” said Amber Mooney, a wildlife interpretive specialist for CEWC.

JAKES is an acronym for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge Ethics and Sportsmanship, and children will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

About 17 environmental-related organizations will be on hand to offer information, activities and education to the public.

“We’ll have wildlife exhibitors of all different kinds all across Georgia who have the mission of conservation and education,” said Mooney.

A sampling includes the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Dauset Trails Nature Center, the Georgia Falconry Association, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and Trout Unlimited.

Families can watch wildlife demonstrations which feature birds of prey, venomous snakes, and turtles. They can try their hand at archery, BB gun target shooting, and fishing and take mini-boat rides led by a DNR ranger. The CEWC Chapter of the Atlanta Astronomy Club will have a telescope set up for solar viewing.

The CEWC will also unveil its newly renovated habitat displays which represent the five major eco-regions in Georgia — mountains, caves, rock outcrops, coastal plains and the coast. The displays are located in the Charlie Elliott Visitor Center and each one has a live habitat.

“It’s open for tours,” said Mooney.

The first 500 children attending the event will get free JAKES Day T-shirts and all kids get free lunches — a hot dog and drink, and parents pay a small amount for lunch.

JAKES Day, in its 18th year, is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia State Chapter of the National Turkey Federation.

To get to CEWC, take Interstate 20 to Exit 98; travel south on Ga. Highway 11; go through Mansfield and continue 3 miles to the entrance at Marben Farms Road on the left. Then follow the JAKES Day signs to the Discovery Area.

For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/charlieelliott or call 770-784-3059.

Mooney said she encourages local residents to stop by and check out the festivities.

“I want them all to come and have a fun time outdoors with the family. What better way to spend Mother’s Day weekend?” she said.