KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The 31st annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is set for Jan. 15-16 at the Hiwassee Refuge and Birchwood Community Center in Birchwood. This year’s festival will be smaller than in years past, but organizers hope people will be able to enjoy the sandhill cranes and spend time outdoors.

The two-day event is a celebration of the thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate through or spend the winter on and around the Hiwassee Refuge. It is also used as an opportunity to focus attention on the rich wildlife in Tennessee and the Native American history of the area.

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Due to COVID-19 concerns, indoor functions have been reduced and there will be limited vendors. Both Saturday and Sunday, the American Eagle Foundation will give a short presentation. There will be no other entertainment or presentations as in past years. However, wildlife and birding experts will be on-site, sharing information and viewing scopes with visitors.

At the Cherokee Removal Memorial, Native American folklore specialists will be presenting artifacts and objects used in everyday life by Native American inhabitants in the Hiwassee River area. Shuttles will be available to take festival attendees to the Cherokee Removal Memorial and the Hiwassee Refuge.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Cherokee Removal Memorial and the Birchwood Area Society Improvement Council have partnered together to host the festival. The festival will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit the festival’s website.