Field Access and the Combine 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 part of a Festival Package; all package holders wear a festival ID badge that confirms their registration and allows participants to access 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. The Field Pass (issued as a combine ticket) includes combine ride(s) (if participants so choose and are physically capable; see below *). It is offered only as part of a Festival Package. Field Pass numbers are assigned in the order you register (=Early Bird Special). Field Pass = Combine ticek. The earlier you complete your registration the lower your Field Pass number.

Each day, participants will meet at a field site, weather and field conditions permitting, or caravan to a rice field. 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 2017 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, you will receive a unique number.  This is your Combine 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 Combine Pass number, our YRARF early bird special.  Riders with lowest field pass number waiting at the combine loading site ride first. Depending on number of combines or field configuration, weather or other factors, 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 and participants with lower numbers may be watching from the sidelines! Best views of rails are often from the field and not the combine (think bumpy pelagic trip) 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 Combine 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 dust masks and ear plugs 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 also planned for field sites (weather permitting) and rails and other birds will be captured and banded so there may be the opportunity to see these birds close up in the hand but participants are not allowed to interfere with the banding workshop.

The 2017 Festival Package includes Field Access 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 (personal transportation is required).  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 2017 does not offer a single day Field Access or Combine Pass during the festival. The Combine Pass is only offered as part of Festival Packages. Registration opens 1 August 2017 at 6 PM Central Daylight Time.

REGISTRATION closes on 27 October 2017 or when festival capacity is reached.

For more detailed information about the festival click on links below:






YRARF Mail Registration.pdf

Other questions? Email:

2017 Weather Contingency Plan.pdf



Hampton Inn & Suites online registration

YRARF 2017 brochure.pdf and banding workshop brochure2017.pdf