November’s First Annual Great Midwest Crane Fest Spotlights Cranes, Community

Gathering Sandhill Cranes prepare for their evening roost on the Wisconsin River.

Contacts: Maddie Tebbe, 608-356-9462, ext.104; Eric Snyder, 608-355-0279, ext. 390

Baraboo Wisconsin – Two of Wisconsin’s leading conservation organizations, based in Baraboo, the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation, have come together to fledge the first annual Great Midwest Crane Fest (GMCF)—Celebrating Community and Conservation, set for November 10-12 in Baraboo.

The festival will be held concurrently at both sites, with shuttle services between the two, and will include facility tours, seminars, lectures, food, film, art displays, and the spectacle of sandhill cranes staging by the thousands throughout the area in preparation for their annual migration.

“Sandhill Cranes are one of the great conservation success stories of the past century, soaring back from the brink of extinction in Wisconsin thanks to farmers, wetland conservation efforts, and reduced hunting pressure. They are part of our everyday lives in ways I couldn’t have imagined a few decades ago. I am delighted to join together with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and our community to celebrate this great achievement and revel in these magical birds, said Dr. Richard Beilfuss, President & CEO, International Crane Foundation.

The GMCF will lift off Thursday evening, November 10, with a crane-viewing tour led by Leopold Foundation Senior Fellow and world-renowned ornithologist, Dr. Stan Temple. Visitors will be treated to the spectacle of thousands of raucous cranes staging on the Wisconsin River very near the world-famous Shack and farm of Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac.

The historic Shack at the Aldo Leopold Foundation

Friday and Saturday, November 11-12, GMCF will feature lectures, seminars, documentary film screenings at a local theater, food, crane art, and tours of each organization’s core attractions. View the full schedule here.

The International Crane Foundation will provide guided Cranes of the World tours through its recently renovated grounds, where visitors can view all 15 species of cranes living in re-created environs from around the world, including the rarest, the whooping crane.

Black-necked Crane exhibit at the International Crane Foundation

At the Aldo Leopold Foundation, visitors will enjoy hiking trails through restored prairie and savanna landscapes, crane congregation viewing from blinds in nearby fields and along the Wisconsin River, and guided tours of the Leopold Shack and farm, now a National Historic Landmark.

“When you visit the beautifully remodeled displays of the International Crane Foundation, you’ll notice a quote by Aldo Leopold etched large on the wall near the sandhill crane exhibit. It’s taken from a lamenting essay he penned in the 1940s, Marshland Elegy, in which Leopold pre-mourns what he believed would be the inevitable passing from this world of the sandhill crane,” said Buddy Huffaker, Executive Director of Aldo Leopold Foundation.

“I’m happy to say, it’s one time he was proven wrong—the sandhill is thriving, in part because the world listened to Aldo, and took action to protect this ‘trumpet in the orchestra of evolution.’ Now we are in a unique position, as two foundations of like mind and kindred spirit—and close physical proximity—to throw a great party for cranes and the community that, like Leopold, can’t live without them.”

For the GMCF schedule of events, ticket prices, and to register, visit greatmidwestcranefest.org. Limited parking will be available at the International Crane Foundation on Shady Lane Road, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation on Levee Road. In addition, overflow parking will be available at the nearby Ho-Chunk Gaming, and free shuttles will circulate between parking and both locations throughout the festival.


The International Crane Foundation works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. We provide knowledge, leadership, and inspiration to engage people in resolving threats to cranes and their diverse landscapes. From our nearly 300-acre headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA our reach extends across the globe. We have offices and staff in China, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, as well as Texas, and work through strong partnerships with local organizations, governments, universities, businesses and others in these regions. Our more than 125 staff and associates work with a network of hundreds of specialists in over 50 countries on five continents.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation was established in 1982 by the five children of Aldo Leopold and his wife Estella as a conservation organization that works to inspire an ethical relationship between people and nature through Leopold’s legacy. This vision of a “land ethic” was not meant to be rigid or dogmatic; instead, Leopold intended for it to evolve continually through personal reflection, open dialogue, and people’s actions on the land and in their communities. We invite you to join us as we work to weave a land ethic into society and encourage its unfolding in myriad of ways.