Falconcrest Falconry Fair 2012

What a weekend... Short nights, long, busy days, but oh, I enjoyed it so much! In the weekend of the 30th of June and the 1st of July, the Falconry Fair at Falconcrest took place. An event in which the terrain of Falconcrest was transformed into a real event area, with different stands and many, many birds of prey and owls.

Friday, June 29th
In view of an upcoming project presentation, I firstly have to go to school this morning. It's not my hobby and certainly not when so many nice things are about to happen and when I know that the people at Falconcrest can use an extra pair of hands. But what should happen, should happen and at nine o'clock I'm on the train to school. Luckily, we are finished quite fast, so around one o'clock I'm back home. I quickly pack my bags and then off to Eindhoven, where Ellen and her mother pick me up to go to Falconcrest. Once there, it's immediately party time! Last year, there was an English falconry team and also this year they are present. At the moment we arrive, they are just training their birds. This makes the difference between Dutch and English falconry crystal clear. We are happy when a falcon makes 10 to 15 nice passes on the lure, but Jayson, one of those English falconers, makes his falcon do at least 40 beautiful passes. Just arrived and already such a spectacle! Of course work needs to be done, for it's a big event that's going to be. The last things are put in place and the birds are cared for. It's almost dinner time here and there we see people walking around with shawarma. Cocky as we are, Nadine, Tessa, Ellen and me walk to the nearby snack bar. As soon as we finish our meal, the bikini's and beach towels appear: time to get some cool down! After a while of splashing around, it gets chilly and we look for the good atmosphere with the other people. Up to half past twelve, we talk, laugh and drink, after which everyone looks for their tent. Finally, it's almost tomorrow...

Saturday, June 30th
My alarm is set for 8 AM, but already at 6.45 AM, Nadine and I are awake. We get dressed and go to work. Some guide signs still need to be laminated and a puzzle track for the kids have to be spread. Meanwhile, everyone is awake and working hard on the final preparations. At ten o'clock everything is ready and the first visitors walk in. Today, I control the souvenir stand of Falconcrest, right after the entrance. Little owl Yeti keeps me company and quite fast I notice that, when I take him on my hand, the interest for the souvenir stand grows a lot. That means a lot of cuddling with Yeti today! The weather is great and from my position I can see some parts of the demonstrations that are almost continuously given. Now and then someone comes to switch with my, so I can walk around myself. I can't do anything but say that the atmosphere is wonderful... The sun is shining, everyone is happy and everything goes as planned. Well, every now and then, a bird stays away for a longer time than is pleasant, sometimes much longer... But in fact, that's the risk of falconry. In the end of the day I have some time to see the demonstration of Xtreme Falconry, the English falconers team. When I'm back at my post at the souvenir stand, I can't resist a little peak when bald eagle Atilla has his showtime. The last time I saw him flying, his training just started and now... I'm literally watching with my mouth opened and goosebumps all over my body... Atilla flies wonderfully! After this beautiful demonstration, the first day of the fair comes to an end. The field empties and for a moment I'm quite busy at the souvenir stand. When all the visitors have left the terrain, we feed and take care for the birds and make sure that everything is tidy. Little by little we go towards dinnertime and the barbecue is ignited. After a few portions of meat, salads and a ice cube fight, we splash into the water for a good cool down after a warm day. Last year, Martin promised us that he would teach us how to swing a lure, so after drying up, he redeems that promise. I tried to swing a lure before, but it always landed on my head or that of one of my unfortunate co-workers. So it's nice to see that, with some good instructions, it goes a little bit better. At least, I don't hit someone's head anymore. I practice a bit until the first blisters come up. I think it has been enough for today. (I'll say that in the meantime, my left hand is completely full of blisters and swinging the lure goes better every day.) We come together on the field and while enjoying a little too much drink, we chat and laugh until it is about half past three in the morning. By the time we get ourselves together to go to bed, I realize that all my stuff is locked into the house. So I have no pyjamas, no stuff for my contact lenses, no glasses, no toothbrush, nothing at all. That means that I have to improvise with two glasses of water for my contacts, the night isn't that long any more. By the time Nadine and I get into our tent, we start chatting again, way too long. It has to be around 4.30 AM when we eventually fall asleep...

Zondag, 1 juli
Amazingly, I'm immediately awake when my alarm starts ringing at half past seven and at 7.45 AM I'm out of my bed. Peter from Xtreme Falconry promised us a real English breakfast, so at eight o'clock we're standing next to his tent. Alas, no Peter and also no Martin or Jayson. We walk back to the house to feed the young birds. When we come back at the Xtreme Falconry camp site, we find Peter, slightly hungover. But as promised, we get our breakfast and after some bacon, egg and sausage, I'm ready for a new day. We make sure everything is ready for the second and last day of the Fair and at 10 AM, the first visitors walk in. Also today I'm present at the souvenir stand and I decide to take Sam, a Siberian eagle owl, on my hand. A good choice, because once I sit there, I've full attention at the souvenir stand. One thing... I forgot that an eagle owl of 2.5 kilogram is slightly heavier than a little owl of 160 grams and it's quite hard to keep standing with Sam on my hand. Therefore, after putting Sam back on his spot after one and a half hour of carrying him around, I'm having a hard time keeping my arm steady. Halfway through the day, I'm taken over at the stand and I decide walk around a bit and watch some demonstrations. In between, I help where ever I can and around three o'clock, I take Sam back on my hand. While I'm walking around with him, the sky gets dark. It's turning darker and darker and after a short moment, the rain starts to pour. Together with Sam, I take shelter underneath one of the stands until the weather starts to clear up a little. I walk to the covering near the bar on the other side of the terrain, because some friends of mine are also there. I'm not the only one with the plan to take refuge over there and with an eagle owl on your hand, you draw a lot of attention. For a short time, I feel like a celebrity, with all the camera's pointed on Sam and me. Once it's completely dry, I put Sam back on his spot. While the field slowly gets emptier, I lend a hand at the photo stand. When all the visitors have gone home, the big clean-up can start. Everyone gets their hands dirty and soon there are only tables and tents left. While a lot of the exhibitors goes home, it's time for us to have some dinner. There's a lot of leftover food from yesterday's barbecue, so again we feed ourselves generously. After dinner, Elzo, Ellen and I take a Harris hawk on the hand and we walk around on the field. I even can't remember how it has been raised, but when the birds are put back on their places, we can hold Talisman, Martin's bateleur eagle, on our hand for a picture. From a distance she is beautiful, but how amazing is it to be able to hold an animal like her on your own hand! Once the pictures are made, Talisman goes back in her transport box and the other birds needs to go inside as well, so the English team can leave early the next morning. We lend them a hand and when all the birds are neatly placed in their boxes and their sitting spots are removed, it is time to have a good evening. Soon, the beer flows abundantly and it's unbelievable to me how much the English guys can drink before they get drunk. Considering the fact that I have to be at school tomorrow morning, I had the intention not to drink. The status of this intention after half an hour: failed. Earlier that evening, Jayson managed to get Peters phone and Peter got fraped. As a revenge, Peter and Frank deflated Jaysons air mattress, tied a knot in his sleeping bag and moved his whole tent. Tanya and I are the only ones from the "younger" Falconcrest clan that are still awake and we decide to stay awake until Jayson will find out about Peters prank. Both of us are fighting against our sleep, but we must stay awake. Around half past two he finally goes towards his tent and our waiting is rewarded: his reaction is priceless! After wiping the tears of laughter from our cheeks, Tanya and I also go and visit our beds. My alarm is set at 7.30 AM, so this is going to be a very short night again...

Monday, July 2nd
Indeed a very short night. It isn't easy to get up, but after a cup of tea, I'm kinda back on earth. Are we kinda back on earth. Me and my hangover. I didn't drink that much, but after a long and busy weekend with little sleep, those two glasses had more effect than I hoped they would have. But allright, we just go on. At eight o'clock everyone is back at work. Tables and chairs are being folded and removed and around 9.30 AM the terrain is less full and more Falconcrest again. I pack my stuff and at 9.45 AM I go to the bus stop to go to school. With an amazing weekend freshly stored in my mind, with old and new friends, with new knowledge and with very, very much fun!