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Animals from every continent, painted faces, and expressions of awe filled Oak Meadow Park during Bridgeland’s 16th Annual Nature Fest that took place on Saturday, April 27. It’s akin to a day-long wilderness adventure and is the most anticipated event sponsored by Howard Hughes Holdings Inc. Nearly 10,000 people from Cypress and the surrounding area came out to spend the day learning about our community and the importance of maintaining the habitats of the world’s unique creatures – all while having fun in the sun.

Headlining this year was YouTube sensation and Emmy award-winning Coyote Peterson who enjoys getting up close and personal with some of the creepiest, crawliest animals to explain their relevance in nature. Several lucky attendees from the audience were selected to engage with a not-so-creepy red Argentinian tegu lizard named Tony. We watched as Enzo the two-toed sloth, a shy and reclusive animal, climbed around Peterson’s shoulders as if he were a tree, eventually giving him a kiss!  A South American tamandua or anteater also proved to be an efficient climber, entertaining wide-eyed onlookers. To screams of delight and concern, a few members of the audience faced their ophidiophobia by holding a green anaconda snake, one of the largest snakes on the face of the earth.

Wearing his signature ranger hat and vest, Peterson asked Nature Fest goers to be brave, and stay wild. Look for Coyote Peterson on social media after making his next documentary where he’ll be filming from bear country.

In addition to the Brave Wilderness star, stage shows included Clint the snake man from Texas Snakes and More who offered the crowd many good-to-know facts about the reptile species, including how to care for your pet and the four types of venomous snakes found in the United States: copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, coral snakes and rattlesnakes, which are the most dangerous in North America.

Emily from the Humane Society taught us that Texas is the bat capital in the United States and that Austin’s bat bridge colony consists of approximately 1.5 million bats. Crocodile Encounter, Wild Things Zoofari and Wildlife on the Move offered additional chances to learn about and get up close with animals in our part of the country as well as other parts of the world.

Nature Fest included additional entertainment like the petting zoo, where children found tortoises, ducks, goats, hogs, sheep, and chickens to pet and hug. A discovery zone sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural Science offered a touch and feel experience allowing attendees to feel animal skins, pelts, shells, preserved dinosaur eggs, fossils, and Texas wildlife such as a bobcat, seagull and other bones and artifacts.

Bridgeland held its 16th Nature Festival in Cypress, Tx., on 4-27–24. Photography by John Everett

A garbage truck, a Precinct Five truck, an excavator, and a seized street racer car in The Touch-a-Truck Exhibit sponsored by Unitas Construction gave curious minds a peek inside vehicles normally seen from a distance. Members of Precinct Five also invited attendees to enter a contest to name their new Kubota — the small utility vehicle used to patrol communities like Bridgeland.

Numerous activities including bounce houses, face painting, a craft tent, roaming entertainment and retailers from Lakeland Village Center captured  visitors’ attention all day long. H-E-B sponsored the birthday bash for Bridgeland Bill, providing treats as we sang happy birthday to our community’s mascot.

Our sponsors helped to make the day a success and included HEB; Schwartz, Page and Harding; The Spencer Company; Masterson Advisors; Memorial Hermann Cypress; Beazer Homes; Partners in Building; BGE; Raba Kistner, Inc.; Pape-Dawson EngineersPerry Homes; Coventry Homes; Space City Orthodontics; Highland Homes; Municipal Accounts and Consulting; Shooter & Lindsey Imagine Early Education and Childcare and Welch Dental Group, Cypress.

Since 2008, Nature Fest has brought tens of thousands of people to Bridgeland to spend the day learning about wildlife from every corner of the world. While Nature Fest is a free event, some activities require a small fee. The proceeds from this year’s activities raised more than $15,000 for Cy-Hope, a local non-profit that strives to make life better for children in the Cypress area. It’s one of over 180 local causes supported by Howard Hughes Holdings Inc. and the HHCares Program. Money raised from Saturday’s programming will assist backpack food programs, counseling and recovery programs, camp lemonade, supplemental music education, and coaching.