Adopt-A-Pond at the Verona Cattail Festival

by SHANNON RITCHIE, Lakeside Project Lead ||

On August 10th, Adopt-A-Pond took part in the 17th annual Verona Cattail Festival. This locally unique festival honours the versatile nature of cattails. Cattails are famous for their rich first nation history, edibility, industrious usefulness as building material, and as an ecologically significant wetland species.

The festival began with cheers as local families paraded in turtle, toad and tadpole themed floats, bikes and cars through the town of Verona and into the Lion’s Centre fair grounds. Picking up the tail of the parade was Verona’s local celebrity, Cameron the Bog Lemming. This cute and fuzzy mascot provided quite the competition for Adopt-A-Pond’s own mascot, Bobbers the Blanding’s turtle.  Live animal shows, local entertainment and arts and crafts completed the festival, creating the perfect family based setting to learn about cattails and the ecosystems they create.

Bobbers, Adopt-A-Pond’s Blanding’s turtle mascot stands happily alongside Cameron, the Verona Cattail Festival’s bog lemming mascot. (Photo: Adopt-A-Pond)

Environmentally speaking, cattails are important for wetlands because they can filter run-off that can cause toxic algae blooms, stabilize soil to prevent erosion, and provide food and homes for a diverse collection of Ontario wildlife. Many of Ontario species at risk amphibians and reptiles rely of cattail marshes for breeding and foraging habitats. Adopt-A-Pond’s role in the festival was both to educate the public about the importance of wetlands and inspire respect for wetland species at risk. Our hope, and the town of Verona’s hope is to preserve these species for the enjoyment of future generations.  Overall, it was a great experience and we are looking forward to participating in the festival next year.

Shannon Ritchie, Adopt-A-Pond staff member, sharing information about how to protect Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians with an interested community member at the Verona Lion’s Hall the day of the parade. (Photo: Adopt-A-Pond)

Tiny tadpoles proudly carry the Verona Cattail Festival banner as the town’s annual wetland celebration parade kicks off. (Photo: Adopt-A-Pond)