Locals got to experience eagles, other animals and nature exhibits at Arlington's annual Eagle Festival on Feb. 1 and 2.

The festival brings together nature-related activities for families and is held along Olympic Avenue.

"We saw the city's presentation on streams which was neat and we just got off the wagon ride which was cool," said local Mike Phillips.

"We came a long time ago and I've been wanting to come back but never had the chance," he said. "The city did a good job and this is fun."

Some of the activities included an obstacle course for kids hosted by the downtown Arlington Fire Department and chainsaw carvers making eagles and bears out of wood logs at the Legion Park parking lot.

The recently opened downtown Stilly Valley Collective also hosted activities including rock and gem displays and an eagle painting class.

"It kind of expands some of the Eagle Festival activities," said Jennifer Egger, executive director of the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Kids could also get treasure hunt maps at the collective building.

"With the eagle treasure hunt we've got kids hunting all over the town, and when they finish the treasure map with all the items from different businesses they get an eagle," said Egger.

One of the biggest attractions was getting to see the large birds of prey brought to the festival by the local Sarvey Wildlife Center.

The center often shows their  birds of prey at the event "to talk about why they're important to the environment and the ecosystem," said Suzanne West, executive director of the Sarvey Wildlife Center.

"Because we're located in Arlington we're part of the Arlington community, so we come out and share what we do to support injured or orphaned wildlife," said West.

West said she appreciates the festival is focused on nature and eagles.

"It's wonderful that we can celebrate them," she said. "This is definitely the time they're out there and nesting."

Getting to see the animals up close helps people empathize more with them.

"Many people have never seen birds like this except in the sky and they often don't realize how large they are," said West.

"They have a lot of personality so I hope it gets people to appreciate them more, so that when they're making decisions like rodent control in their homes maybe they won't be using poison and things like that so they're not impacting the birds," she said.

Students from the Arlington High School's FFA program also came out with their animals and hosted a petting zoo at the Arlington Co-Op, providing families with another chance to see a variety of animals.

"Most people don't have the chance to work with pigs or goats," said Sienna Mullins, Arlington High School student.

"They get to interact with them a lot closer," she said. "We wanted to come out to show the people what we are doing and how we work with our animals. They're a lot more approachable than they seem."

People can learn a lot from the animals by seeing them and getting to interact with them, said Mullins.

"They get to learn, as well, and they're like 'oh, this is what a baby pig looks like,' or 'this is how a rabbit acts,'" she said.

It's also helpful for the animals and the students as well.

"It gets the animals a lot more used to people so it's good for the animals too," said Mullins.

"It gets our projects out there and shows people that we actually do adult jobs," she said.

The event is put on by the city of Arlington, the Stillaguamish Tribe, the Arlington Arts Council and other local organizations who provide activities during the day.

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