Othello manages to save Crane Festival

The city of Othello has saved the 2011 Othello Crane Festival.

Othello stepped in after organizers of the annual March festival announced they would have to cancel it because they lacked enough volunteers to pull together the event.

Festival chairwoman Dixie Fultz said the festival committee unanimously decided Friday to put on the 14th annual event.

Previously, the group had planned to wait until 2012 for the next festival.

There still is a lot of work to do, but Fultz said city staff have helped identify speakers and gotten it to the point that a 2011 festival is feasible.

About 20,000 sandhill cranes stop over in the Othello area each spring to fatten up on their way back to Alaska after spending the winter down south. The elegant birds stand as tall as 4 feet and have wingspans exceeding 6 feet.

The festival, which includes bus tours for bird watchers, brings in about $40,000 to the community through tourism.

The city accomplished what would have taken the volunteers months, Fultz said.

The city council directed staff to help find speakers for the festival and collect information on them so the festival brochure could be completed.

"The city did an insurmountable amount of work," Fultz said.

The brochure likely will be issued later this year than for previous festivals, she said.

But it still will be out in time for the festival, which is from March 25 to 27.