Benefit held for Avian Center

Augusta. About 75 participants showed up for a benefit for the Avian Wildlife Center at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.

18 Nov 2019 | 02:10

Roughly, 75 participants came to enjoy the entertainment at the Avian Wildlife Center benefit held Saturday, Nov. 16, in the Farmers Market building at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. The wonderfully heated building provided a cozy afternoon of laughter, fun and glorious music.

Opening the benefit show was Lori Space Day with her comedic Space Farms zoo monologue encompassing and elaborating on many of the zoo’s daily happenings.

“Did you know I now know 25 different words for scat,” Space Day said.

She also spoke about the “verbal abuse” she endures from the zoo’s parrot population. The self-proclaimed country girl chuckled, “I speak six different languages, English, German, Russian, Yiddish, universal animal and of course, redneck.”

Always a local charm, Space Day captured the audience with her decades of yarns and factual animal antics.

The Skylands Dulcimer String band provided the musical entertainment. The group of five musicians, Lew Shafer, Don and Donna Traylor, Bob Taylor and George Nixon, play a total of 15 instruments, that can transform the listener to a simple, uplifting space. The haunting sounds of the Celtic harp and the dulcimer are especially calming and earthy. The group included a beautiful rendition of Cat Stevens’ song Morning has Broken and a song from TV’s Civil War series.

Giselle Smisko of the Avian Wildlife Center of Wantage was on hand with several of the center’s avian residents.

“There are only two avian rehabs in Northern New Jersey,” Smisko said.

One center is in Morris County, while Smisko’s is in Wantage and has been in operation for three decades, licensed by the state and federal governments but funded by neither. Saturday’s comedy and musical benefit raised much needed funds for the Wantage center.

According to Smisko, between 650 to 700 birds per year are brought to the center for medical and emergency treatment and rehabilitation and if possible are released back into the wild after recovery.

Delicious refreshments were provided by the Crystal Springs Nature Club. Sunflower seed from Brodhecker Farm was for sale to attract birds in the winter months. Smisko thanked all those who organized and volunteered during the benefit and assured the audience that the bluebird she brought to the benefit actually sang the entire time with the Skyland Dulcimer String Band.