For the most part, The Houston Parrot Festival 2012 was a smaller, quieter and more subdued event than in past years. I think it’s primarily for two reasons:

1.) The economy blows.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s getting better, but it still blows and people are spending their time trying to make house payments and getting their kids through school rather than picking up and flying off to Houston to attend this amazing event.

It’s a shame, but you can see it and feel it everywhere, so it is going to be palpable and obvious in Houston as well. It has hit this industry like a sledgehammer. Suffice it to say, it’s a bit difficult to keep your parrot when you’re living in a car.

2.) We’re getting older.

This whole “keeping parrots” business is waning in popularity with the younger generations because it’s expensive and they simply don’t have the money. (see #1…) The younger generation has witnessed firsthand what many members of the baby boomers did to screw themselves financially. They have no intention of making the same mistakes and this begins with embarking on an expensive lifestyle choice.

With the way things are going, the “Party in Parrot-dise” should probably start at about four of five in the afternoon just when the “Early Bird Specials” hit their busy times in Palm Beach and should wind down about ten p.m.

As it is, I for one had to go upstairs for a quick “lie down” before gearing up for a party after wandering around and talking with people all day.

So trust me, I’m not exempt from this whining desire that the party start earlier. Now that that has been stated, we can move on…

As you can see, I had a blast:

Despite the fact that I had a cold, I managed to uhhh, medicate myself with aspirin, nasal spray, naps and a bloody mary or two to keep the nasty symptoms at bay.  There were of course familiar faces and people I knew very well, but we also had new people. And among those new faces at the Festival were a few good friends of mine who had never before attended. With a little incessant whining, I managed to convince Jacque Johnson of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Parrot Garden and Janet Holt Hilton to come to the Festival.

Jacque and Janet. Great jacket on Janet she picked up from the Antique Beak!

I also had a riot getting together with Jessica Pineda, my Editor at BIRD TALK Magazine.

I just love saying that: “…my editor…” It’s like having a net when you’re on a trapeze. You might not need it, but it sure as hell makes you feel better.

Anyway, hanging with Jessica and ripping ideas around is always fun. And of course I dragged my feather scarves along to see if they could raise a little cash for the cause:

And they did. My feather work raised 380.00 for the NPRPF. I wish it was more but it’s a respectable amount.

Here’s a shot of me with Concetta DellaRocco-Ferragamo and the third scarf fabricated from African Grey feathers:

And toys. Did I mention the vendors had toys all over the place? And food? And samples? And artwork? God the artwork was amazing this year! While the entire event was smaller and more intimate, it certainly didn’t lack in the quality of items being sold.

The speakers were excellent and Susan Friedman was on hand to give her presentation of “P-A-R-R-O-T Do Tell” Six principles of effective teaching strategies and behavior management.

Jacque Johnson on the left, Starbird Toys Owner, Bonnie Jay on the right and Susan and I in the middle.

I didn’t get much of a chance to talk with Susan. Susan turns nearly every encounter into a learning opportunity so she was extremely busy answering questions and discussing the power of positive reinforcement. Susan’s agenda is education and she takes every opportunity to help people understand Applied Behavior Analysis. Here is her Training and education Facebook Page: “Behavior Works” I can tell you this much; if you haven’t read her work, attended one of her conferences or training sessions or signed up for “LLP: Living and Learning with Parrots,”   you are missing out. She has some really cool ways of teaching. This for instance: Check out this rap song! Just click on the Banner and get ready to rock. It’s really clever and I just love the thing, but then, I love education with some entertainment thrown in:

The cool people at Chirping Central were there. Chirping Central endeavors to inform and raise awareness on a number of levels, but most of all they are about avian conservation. Well! You should some of the freakin’ artwork they had! Janet Hilton won the 400.00 shopping spree drawing sponsored by BIRD TALK  and she selected this wonderful huge print of a Lear’s Macaw by artist, Mark McDowell:

You really need to check out their website and see the prints they have available. I’m not to much into avian art, but what they have available is gorgeous! All in all it was a raucous and fun festival. Granted, it was smaller, but it was a ton of fun as usual. I really hope we can “reboot and reboost” the attendance on this event. It’s really so much fun and with the new products and educational forums available, I simply feel that the Festival is an event you shouldn’t miss. I hope to see you next year.