The parking lot at the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve was full, and volunteers had to keep track of who was coming and going to direct visitors into an open spot.
After a smaller than normal turnout at their Fall Bay Day event, which was held in October, employees and volunteers at the Buffer Preserve were worried that last weekend’s cold front would warn visitors away. So, the huge crowd on Saturday was a massive relief, said Dylan Shoemaker, the Buffer Preserve’s manager.
At one point, Shoemaker said, there were cars packed around the back of the Buffer Preserve’s visitor center. He had never seen such a large crowd there.
The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves’ biannual Bay Day celebrations, which happen in the fall and the winter every year, are some of the organization’s largest fundraisers.
Money collected from the events go towards maintaining the preserve and supporting its mission. The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve was established in 1995 to protect the surrounding uplands for preservation of the bay’s pristine natural resources and water quality.
This time around, Bay Day featured a low country shrimp boil, tram tours of the preserve, booths from various local environmental organizations and a drinks concession stand, with beer donated by Oyster City Brewing Company, among other activities.
Locals and visitors packed into the Buffer Preserve’s heated visitors center to eat and chat amongst each other.
The Buffer Preserve’s next Bay Day will be held in the fall.