A REALLY wild day out is promised when Devon Wildlife Trust holds its annual festival in Barnstaple this Saturday.
The Wildlife Festival is Devon's largest celebration of the county's wildlife and last year, in Plymouth, attracted more than 12,000 visitors.
Organisers hope that North Devon nature lovers will visit in their droves. The event was last staged in Barnstaple in 2011.
"We're delighted to be returning to Barnstaple," said event organiser Jo Pullin. "Local people always show their support for us and their passion for local wildlife. The 2014 festival promises to be the best yet. It will be a special mix of things to see and things to do, all centred upon Devon's beautiful nature."
The festival will give visitors the chance to get up close to beautiful birds of prey courtesy of Hawk Walks.
There will also be a chance to encounter bats, and a host of mini-beasts courtesy of Exmoor Zoo.
Other attractions will include a cinema bus showing wildlife films, a storyteller, face painters, stilt walkers and even an underwater robot.
The festival will be staged in a series of marquees ensuring that visitors can enjoy the event whatever the weather.
Jo is keen to highlight the practical elements of the festival: "It's about getting hands on and doing things for local wildlife. On the day people will be able to make a nest box, design badges, take part in crafts and get their face painted. It's a great day out and there's no charge for entry."
The 2014 Wildlife Festival will have a marine theme, acknowledging the special marine wildlife that North Devon is famed for.
"We especially want people to come and help us celebrate their marine natural heritage," Jo said. "In preparation for the festival we've established a Starfish Trail. Visitors to the town can now hunt for a series of wonderful starfish designs made by local school children. Each of the starfish has been placed in local shops and other venues. We're setting people the task of finding all twelve starfish to complete the trail. On the day we'll also be joined by an artist with whom visitors will be able to help construct a giant starfish."
Devon Wildlife Trust hopes that many of its 32,000 supporters will turn out on the day.
But Jo added: "It's also a chance for us to meet people who are not already our supporters and for us to show them how they can help to make a world of difference to their local wildlife."
The Wildlife Festival is on Barnstaple's Square on Saturday, May 10, 10am and 4pm. The event is free. Details: www.devonwildlifetrust.org.