Wetlands, wind and water celebrated
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent June 12, 2012 1:08PM
The Calumet College of St. Joseph rowing team takes its boat out of Wolf Lake during the 12th annual Bi-State Wetlands, Wind and Water Festival in Hammond, Ind., on Saturday, May 26, 2012. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
The Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative is a not-for-profit group and land trust dedicated to the enhancement of the Wolf Lake watershed. For more information, call (219) 933-7149.
Updated: June 12, 2012 1:16PM
Visitors to the recent Wolf Lake Bi-State Wetlands, Wind and Water Festival found quite a bit to do.
Each year, activities take place on the Illinois side in the morning hours of the two-day celebration, and in the afternoon on the Indiana side.
Archery and a rowing demonstration on Wolf Lake were on the schedule during the 12th annual event. They followed the poster contest awards presentation at the Environmental Education Center in Hammond.
“We offer the poster contest twice a year to see how young people view Wolf Lake,” Michael Boos, executive director of the EEC, told the students before he handed out the awards. “It’s important to be good stewards of public land.”
Lorena and Paul Vasquez of Chicago watched their daughter, Alexis, 17, pick up her first-place award.
“I had no idea my daughter even entered the poster contest,” Lorena said. “This is an amazing honor; it teaches the kids to have confidence in themselves.”
The focus of the contest is for students in the Wolf Lake area to depict on a poster their idea of what goes on there. Alexis chose a typical summer day — a girl in a bathing suit, a person scuba diving, children riding bikes, flying kites and participating in other activities.
“I was very surprised, but happy I won,” said Alexis, who attends Washington High School on Chicago’s East Side.
Runner-up Rosendo Garcia, 15, drew the lakefront as it looks at sunset. A person fishing and another walking a dog were among his figures.
“I chose this because I wanted to draw something different than the others, who all used the sun in the middle of the day,” Rosendo said.
Added his mother, Rosa Garcia: “I always knew my son was good at art, but it’s nice to know that others see his talent, too.”
Giovanni Lopez, 15, who also attends Washington High, finished third. Each of the top three received a check.
After the poster awards, many of those present walked the few blocks north to the small beach area of Wolf Lake, near the new water pad, to continue with the festival. Latoyia Gilbert of Gary is a mentor with the Rising Stars Academy in the city. As she and her children, Tiffany, 6, and twins Taylor and Tiara, 12, and mentoring student Niesha Jeffries, 15, walked toward the rowing demonstrations, Gilbert commented on the activities.
“This is such as good way to get everyone outdoors,” she said. “We’re always looking for something different to do on the weekends, and this is definitely out of the ordinary.”
The festival, sponsored by the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative, features canoeing, fishing, kite-flying, instructions in wind surfing and sailing, a bike tour and a program on land restoration. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the Illinois property; the city of Hammond manages the Indiana property.
“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources introduced archery to our annual event this year,” said Mike Golando, president of the AWLI. “We’re equally excited by the rowing demonstration by Calumet College (of St. Joseph).”
Before opening day began in the afternoon on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake, the Illinois side greeted many visitors. A fishing clinic took place along the Chicago shoreline, just south of the boat launch at the William Powers Conservation Area.
The event was offered through AWLI’s community outreach program and the Leave No Child Inside initiative.
Archery and kite-flying began later, with children receiving free kites.