Hop over to the Spring Fling

Live animals. Live music. Costumed characters. Nature trails. Carnival games.

All that and more can be found at Springbrook Nature Center’s annual Spring Fling, said Tara Rogness, interpretive program supervisor at Springbrook.

Jazmine Holen, 6, of Andover, Melanie Kath, 8, of Columbia Heights, and Josie Kath, 5, of Columbia Heights, hold a goat at the petting zoo during Springbrook Nature Center’s Spring Fling in Fridley last year. This year the event will be noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 12. File photo by Elizabeth Sias

Jazmine Holen, 6, of Andover, Melanie Kath, 8, of Columbia Heights, and Josie Kath, 5, of Columbia Heights, hold a goat at the petting zoo during Springbrook Nature Center’s Spring Fling in Fridley last year. This year the event will be noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 12. File photo by Elizabeth Sias

This year’s Spring Fling will be held noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 12, in Fridley. Admission costs $7 at the gate, and children 2 and under are free.

Springbrook has hosted the event amid the nature center’s native prairies for more than 25 years, each year offering something new for visitors.

“It’s always been very family-friendly, very spring-based,” Rogness said. “My favorite thing is seeing people come back to being outside. A lot of people will stay inside and away from the nature center during the winter months so, it’s nice to see the return of people wanting to get out of the house and get outside.”

New this year will be shows by Kidpower featuring Rachael Kroog, a local performer and naturalist who incorporates music with live animals and puppets.

Kroog will perform two half-hour shows at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

“I’m excited to see Rachael. She’s been a naturalist in the Twin Cities for a long time and has performed at lots of nature centers,” Rogness said. “It’ll be fun to be able to see her perform.”

The popular Cock-a-Doodle Petting Zoo makes a return this year. The animals usually include a kangaroo, llamas, goats and rabbits, to name a few.

“It’s always very popular to get up close and pet the animals,” Rogness said.

She and other staff and volunteers usually start planning the annual event in January. Meeting about once a week, the team creates new paintings and props and repairs old ones.

They try to keep costs low, this year running the event for under $3,000, including contracts for entertainers.

About 75 volunteers make Spring Fling possible, Rogness said, including those who help set up the week leading up to the event, those who help out with games and other activities the day of and everyone who helps take down decorations at the end.

Guests can enjoy two trails this year. The Wakin’ Up for Spring nature trail will feature various scene of insects, flowers blooming and hibernating animals waking up.

The second trail is a You Find ’Em self-guided nature trail; it won’t be quite as decorated, but there will be oversized worms, bees and other plants and animals for kids to look out for.

Kids love interacting with costumed characters such as Alice in Wonderland, Three Little Pigs, Little Bo Peep and more, Rogness said. And the Giant Bunny once again will make his annual appearance.

“It’s fun to see kids waiting to get their picture taken with the Giant Rabbit,” she said. “Some of them are really excited, and some of them are terrified.”

The Egg Olympics are happening for the second year. Kids can compete in bunny bowling, the bunny hop and other fun games. In case of bad weather, a Dora the Explorer inflatable obstacle course will be inside the building.

“Our annual Spring Fling is a fun way for families to welcome the arrival of warmer weather and discover how the plants and animals of Springbrook are preparing for spring,” Springbrook Director Mike Maher said. “The event features something for everyone.”

Spring Fling usually draws 1,200 to 1,800 visitors. Proceeds from the event go toward supporting Springbrook’s programs.

Springbrook Nature Center is at 100 85th Ave. NW in Fridley.

Elizabeth Sias is at elizabeth.sias@ecm-inc.com

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