Stanwood, Camano celebrations will brighten the winter lull

STANWOOD — February is a month of treasure hunts and winged visitors here.

While most communities slip into a late winter lull before spring and summer festivals, Stanwood and Camano Island are ready to put on two of the area’s biggest events of the year.

The back-to-back celebrations have different themes. One honors migrating snow geese that flock to the tideflats, and the other entices people to hunt for clues to colorful, fragile treasures.

The Great Northwest Glass Quest runs from Feb. 13 to 22. A father and son duo of local artists, Mark and Marcus Ellinger, have crafted hundreds of glass floats that serve as the treasure in this 10-day quest. Plastic clue balls are tucked among the trails at parks or mixed into the merchandise at businesses. People who find clue balls win a float.

Guide books for the quest can be picked up at most Stanwood and Camano Island businesses or downloaded online at

This year, at least one new questing spot has been added, event coordinator Gayle Picken said. Kayak Point Regional Park will have clue balls. Locations that have been part of the quest in the past, including Camano Island and Cama Beach state parks, also are on this year’s list. About 40 businesses participate.

The floats come in a variety of colors and every one is unique, Picken said.

“The repeat questers love this,” she said. “We have people come and bring their kids or friends or parents. It’s a treasure hunt, and it’s so much fun.”

People have about a week to recover from questing before the 10th Annual Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival starts. The two-day celebration is scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1.

Tens of thousands of snow geese migrate down the west coast in the winter, landing in droves among Stanwood’s fields and tideflats. The area also is home to a variety of other birds. February is a good time for viewing eagles, hawks, ducks and great blue heron as well as snow geese.

Presentations during the festival including “Feathered Architects: The Fascinating World of Bird Nests” and “Are Polar Birds on Thin Ice?” Organizers are putting together a birding photography class and several guided tours of the Port Susan Nature Conservancy. A bus tour to spot snow geese and trumpeter swans is in the works, and maps are available at local businesses for popular birding areas like Iverson Spit and English Boom Park on Camano Island.

Tours tend to be the most popular part of the festival, said Kristine Kaufman, one of the coordinators. Speakers also draw crowds, and there are experts this year on birds in the far northern climes of Russia and on southern species in Antarctica and South America. “It’s sort of pole to pole this year,” Kaufman said.

A complete list of activities is online at People should bring warm clothes, cameras, binoculars and water bottles.

“This has just grown year after year,” Kaufman said. “Our one piece of advice is layer — the classic Pacific Northwest instruction.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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