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23rd Annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival

The 2015 Pelican Island Wildlife Festival will be Saturday, March 14, 2015 and planning for another great event is underway.  If you are interested in being involved in helping us plan the event, or volunteering just the day of, please let us know!  You will find out more information about volunteer opportunities for the event under the “Get Involved” menu above.  You will also find contact information under the “About PIPS” menu.

The 2014 Pelican Island Wildlife Festival was lots of fun and a great success, thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, exhibitors, presenters, attendees, and especially President Teddy Roosevelt, as our emcee!  Thank you all for helping make this another great event for the community of Sebastian and the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.



The 112th Birthday Celebration of Pelican Island and the National Wildlife Refuge System

A Celebration of the Treasure Coast’s natural resources and the 112th birthday of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Plan to join us in celebrating this anniversary of Pelican Island and the refuge system, and enjoy the many exhibitors, including arts & crafts, environmental, and food vendors.  Live wildlife shows feature birds of prey and reptiles throughout the day.  Discounted Pelican Island tours by pontoon boat depart every hour.  Special kid’s activities are offered non stop throughout the day.  An incredible photography display features entries and winners of the festival photography contest.  A full day of fun and leisure for the whole family.

This year’s emcee will once again be Teddy Roosevelt, aka Joe Wiegand.  Mr. Wiegand has studied President Roosevelt extensively and has re-enacted Theodore Roosevelt in Chatauqua-style events for many years!  He is “…A lifelong student of American history, government and foreign policy, Joe is a political science graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a former graduate assistant at the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.”

So be sure and say hi and chat with President Roosevelt and learn a thing or two about history!  For more information on Mr. Wiegand, his expertise and reprisal of President Roosevelt, please visit his website at:

Additionally this year, our nation will celebrate “50 Years of Wilderness” honoring America’s “True American Legacy of Wilderness.”  Pelican Island proper was designated as a “Wilderness Area” by the federal government in 1970.  For more information about this designation, visit  For more information about the 50 Years of Wilderness celebration, visit


Free Parking   Free Admission   Free Activities

All the event activities at Riverview Park are free, except for kayaking, boat and birding tours.  The pontoon boat tours to Pelican Island are a suggested donation of $15/person, and the birding tour is $25/person.  Pontoon boat tours run throughout the event, approximately every hour.

All proceeds from this event supports the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.


Festival Activities

  • Live Wildlife Shows
  • Kayaking Activities
  • Environmental Exhibits
  • Boat Tours to Pelican Island
  • Kids Educational Activities & Games coordinated by the Environmental Learning Center
  • Environmental Arts & Crafts Exhibits
  • Live Radio DJ and food
  • Amateur Photography Contest
  • Historical Reenactments
  • Fat-tire “Bike Challenge”
  • Pelican Island NWR birding Tours

Photo Contest

Entries to the 2014 festival Photo Contest can be viewed here.  Winning photo entries are as follows:

Best in Show – Maria Hefferman, Night Heron Juvenile

Wildlife – 1st Place, Ron Bielefeld, Burrowing Owl with Dove; 2nd Place, Jodi Levesque, Jodi Levesque Wildlife; 3rd Place, Chuck Palmer, Little Green

Landscape – 1st Place, Gregory Hills, Wharf; 2nd Place, Marc Szczesny-Pamarada, Long Pine Key; 3rd Place, Susan King, Dawn at Blue Cypress Lake

Macro-Close Up – 1st Place, Marc Szczesny-Pamarada, Florida Tree Frog; 2nd Place, Mark Little, Dragonfly; 3rd Place, David Sime, Mushrooms



A raffle drawing will be held at the Pelican Island Wildlife Festival.  The Grand Prize is a custom made wooden kayak, valued at $1450!  The kayak is hand crafted by Mike Beck of Treasure Coast Wooden Boats of Sebastian.  The winner of the 2104 kayak raffle was John Galvez – congratulations!

2013 kayak raffle winner

This is a photo of the 2013 kayak raffle prize winner with the wooden kayak made by Mike.

Raffle tickets are $2 each and can be purchased at the Pelican Island Preservation Society/Festival Information tent on the day of the festival.

The raffle drawing for all prizes will be held at 3:30 PM the day of the festival.  You do not need to be present to win.


Bird Watching by Boat

The Pelican Island Wildlife Festival includes boat tours through the Indian River Lagoon to Pelican Island. Wintering birds seen on the island may include White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills and Forster’s tern.

Over 30 species of birds use Pelican Island as a rookery, roost, feeding ground, or loafing area. 16 different species of birds nest on Pelican Island, including the Brown Pelican, Wood Stork, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green-backed Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Double-crested cormorant, Anhinga, White Ibis, American oystercatcher, Common moorhen.

Wintering birds include the White pelican, double-crested cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, Blue-wing teal, Lesser scaup, Red-breasted merganser, Ring-billed gull, Forster’s tern, and Common Loon.


Exhibitor Form/Information

Food Vendor Form/Info

Festival/Sebastian Street Map

2014 Festival Program

Sponsor Form/Information



Festival Sponsors

Would you like to sponsor our 2015 festival?  Your name could be here!

Affordable Water
Sebastian, FL

A Florida Outdoor Center

Florida Outdoor Center


SpringHill Suites by Marriott

Marriott SpringHill Suites
Vero Beach, FL

Oculina Bank
Sebastian, FL

Melbourne, FL

Ridley’s Custom Framing
Palm Bay, FL

River Explorer Boat Tours
Vero Beach, FL

Rock City Gardens
Wabasso, FL


Sebastian Animal Hospital & Bird Clinic – Dr. Jeff Slade

Sebastian River medical Center
Sebastian River Medical Center
Sebastian, FL

Southern Photo
Melbourne, FL

Treasure Coast Herpetological Society

Treasure Coast Wildlife Center

Vero Beach Magazine


Vero Beach, FL



City of Sebastian

ccir logo

Environmental Learning Center
Wabasso, FL

A Century of Conservation

National Wildlife Refuge System

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Building on the success of Viva Florida 500 in 2013, The Florida Department of State continues to work with partners statewide to promote cultural and historical experiences through a multi-year campaign called Viva Florida, which promotes 12,000 years of Florida’s people, places and cultural achievements. Learn more by visiting