The Festival Field Pass

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival participants enjoy a unique opportunity to engage in agritourism, observing close-up rice harvesting operations, with the added benefit of seeing Yellow Rails and other rail species (Sora, Virginia, and King) that may be flushed by a combine while it is harvesting rice. Access to the fields being harvested is called - the Festival Field Pass. The Field Pass is only offered as a Festival Package, which includes that participants can ride on a combine

(if they so choose and are physically capable; see below *) or search fields on foot to watch for rails and other birds flushed by the combine, or simply sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show. Many additional bird species can be seen in the vicinity.

Each day, participants will meet at the Thornwell Warehouse Association building in Thornwell and from there, weather and field conditions permitting, caravan to rice fields. Participating farmers will open their property to festival participants during their rice harvest activities.  Once on-site, participants can come and go at their leisure. Please be advised that personal transportation is required <carpooling options may be possible, but are not guaranteed>.

ATTENTION: Harvesting activities are subject to weather and field conditions. In the event that weather prevents or interrupts harvesting on a scheduled festival field day, a local field trip will be offered as a substitute as per YRARF 2014 Weather Contingency Plan.  See Festival updates page.

The Festival Package allows access to participating fields. YRARF facilitators will be on-site to assist participants on and off combines, point out rails and other birds, and provide additional information.  To avoid potential injury to themselves, their property, or others, participants must remain attentive and considerate of their surroundings, realizing that they are on a working farm and farm activities are in progress.

*Combine rides: When you register for a Festival Package, your identification badge will have a unique number that will indicate ride order.  This is your Field Pass number, which is reserved in chronological order of registration when payment is received and issued upon completion of registration - register early to receive a low pass number, our early bird special.  Riders with lowest field pass number ride first. Depending on number of combines, field configuration, the number of riders will vary per day - and your number may not come up until the second, or even third day.  However, a high number does not necessarily preclude getting aboard sooner, because we load passengers from those waiting! Best views of rails are often from the field and not the combine so all participants are strongly encouraged to attend field days regardless of high pass number to watch for Yellow Rails. Although Yellow Rails can be quite numerous, some years they are scarcer, and all fields are not created equally - we don’t want anyone to miss their opportunity to see a Yellow Rail. To get a feel for what it may be like - click on the combine photo to watch a movie from 2010.

Regardless of your pass number (and barring any unforeseen mechanical problems or inclement weather conditions), all participants should have the opportunity to ride on a combine, perhaps multiple times if desired and if weather permits. Although most participants enjoy this unique experience, especially riding on a combine’s outside landing, be advised that it is very noisy, and can also be a very dusty experience: dust masks and ear protection are strongly recommended and will be provided to festival participants - and please be advised, not only can dust and rice chaff be potentially irritating to a participant, but can also be hard on optical equipment if not protected by participant. Not all participants may be physically capable to climb up onto a combine: if you are not able to do this safely without assistance then we regret that we cannot accommodate rides under those circumstances. A bird banding workshop is planned for a field site on Friday and Saturday (weather permitting) and rails and other birds will be captured and banded so there is also the opportunity to see these birds close up in the hand.

The 2016 Festival Package includes Field Passes for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (weather permitting).  Packages also include local guided morning birding trips on Friday and Saturday, and rice mill tours on Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning.  The Festival Package also includes two receptions: Thursday Jambalaya Supper with Les Freres Michot Cajun band at Myer’s Landing Campground at Lake Arthur and Closing Reception at the Welsh Museum in Welsh.

Click on the rail at left for detailed registration information.

NOTE: YRARF 2016 does not offer a single day Field Pass during the festival. The Field Pass is only offered as part of Festival Packages..

REGISTRATION OPENS ON 1 AUGUST 2016 and closes on 27 October 2016 or when festival capacity is reached.

For more information about festival offerings click on images below:



For more information about add-on trips and workshops click on images above.

How to register for YRARF 2016How_to_register.html

Weather contingency planThe_field_pass_files/Weather%20Contingency%20Plan.pdf
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?attire.html

Take me to online registrationonline_registration.htmlonline_registration.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0
Yellow Rails Field Access
Banding WorkshopBanding_workshop.htmlBanding_workshop.html
Pre-festival offerings

Printable PDF Schedule of YRARF 2016 EVENTSThe_field_pass_files/Yellow%20Rails%202016%20Schedule.pdf
Thornwell:map to TWA and festival sitesYRRF_TWA_map.html
Suggested Louisiana field attireattire.html
LA sites

YRARF brochure