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Dave Colburn to bring wild animal show to Freeland's Celebrate America

Dave Colburn’s Predators of the Heart will be at the celebration. He will bring the grown-up versions of these young cougars. - Photo courtesy of Predators of the Heart
Dave Colburn’s Predators of the Heart will be at the celebration. He will bring the grown-up versions of these young cougars.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Predators of the Heart

This year’s Celebrate America festival will be a wild one.

During Freeland’s holiday celebration on the eve of Independence Day, the “Predators of the Heart” with Dave Colburn will make sure the show has plenty of bite.

Colburn will bring wolves, cougars, alligators and other predators to Freeland Park. His wild animal program is a favorite across the Northwest.

“I bought my first rattlesnake when I was 8 years old,” Colburn recalled. “Now we’re traveling with our animals all over the state, Oregon and Idaho.”

The show will start at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Spectators will learn about wildlife conservation.

As human populations grow and the demand on natural resources increases, wildlife conservation has become extremely important, Colburn said.

“Our goal is to create a passion in the hearts of people to appreciate the role wildlife plays in a complex web of life,” he said. “We do this by letting you meet some of nature’s most misunderstood animals up close.”

The Anacortes-based company holds more than 200 presentations a year in schools, churches, libraries, juvenile halls, camps and county fairs.

“It’s fun — slash — educational. Probably more fun,” Colburn said.

Colburn has been teaching wildlife education for 10 years. All the money he receives for doing shows is used Colburn has been teaching wildlife education for 10 years. All the money he receives for doing shows is used to feed, house and care for the animals.

Matt Chambers, pastor of South Whidbey Assembly of God, the church that puts on the celebration each year, said the festival will be fun for the whole family. But it will also be bigger and better than in the past.

The church has increased its budget significantly for the freedom festival.

“Our budget this year increased from $26,000 in 2007 to $42,000 in 2008. This is mainly due to the bus costs and to the fireworks,” he said.

While fuel is part of the extra cost, he said, people can expect bigger, more spectacular fireworks.

Despite a struggling economy, Chambers said the community has been generous and donated to continue the South End tradition of a July 3 celebration at Holmes Harbor.

“We have more people that have given this year than before — up between 10 to 15 percent in sheer numbers of supporters,” he said.

Even so, donations are still needed to cover rising costs.

“More money has been given, but we are about $2,200 short of reaching our budget,” Chambers said.

As in previous years, there will be lots of entertainment and food at Celebrate America.

This year’s event will include many fun activities for the whole family. There will be face painting, balloon art and puppet performances for the little ones to enjoy. The celebration begins at 2 p.m. when the children’s activities start.

There will also be old-fashioned community fair games like marshmallow stuffing and watermelon seed spitting. Games begin at 7 p.m.

Southbound, a rock band made up of local teen talents Taylor Herring, Devon Sidhu, Miles Milfs and Matt Lachausse, will play at 6 p.m. Whidbey favorites the Shifty Sailors will take the stage at 9 p.m.

Before the fireworks will illuminate Holmes Harbor at dark, a patriotic display, “Remember Me, Your Flag?” is planned, Chambers said. The presentation will begin at 10 p.m. and includes six historic flags.

“Just a little bit of America. The rest of it is just a fun night,” Chambers said.

The annual attraction wouldn’t be possible without volunteer help, he added.

“More than 100 volunteers make this thing happen,” he said. And it’s not just the church congregation.

Members of the South Whidbey Lions, for example, just completed more than 207 hours of work sprucing up Freeland Park in preparation for Celebrate America.

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