This year for the 22nd Annual “Ding” Darling Days, Oct. 16-22, J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island adds new daily theme days to the calendar, plus character meet-and-greets on Family Fun Day. The Island Inn is located 2 miles from “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. This is accessible by bike or by car.

Free Family Fun Day on Sunday, Oct. 16, kicks off the week’s festivities at the refuge with free live wildlife presentations, giveaways, a butterfly house and touch tank, nature crafts, face painting, hot dogs, and more.

Conservation Art Day will bring the week-long “Ding” Days 2011 to a close on Saturday, Oct. 22. Activities will include family nature art workshops, cartooning, and – back by popular demand – a free tram photography workshop for the first 30 who sign up that day at the tram booth in the refuge parking lot.

A presentation and stamp-signing by the current Federal Duck Stamp Artist James Hautman, who bested nearly 235 top wildlife artists to win the annual contest for the fourth time, is Conservation Art Day’s feature event. The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Artist and Florida Junior Duck Stamp contest winner will join him.

Admission to Wildlife Drive is free to everyone on both Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, and free to hikers and bikers on Friday, Oct. 21. (Wildlife Drive is closed to vehicular traffic on Fridays.)

The days between Family Fun Day and Conservation Art Day are filled with special lectures and programs, free biking and birding tours and discounted kayaking and boat excursions through Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s recreation concession.

“‘Ding’ Days is our way of celebrating National Wildlife Refuge week, when refuges around the country encourage people to get outdoors and experience their refuges,” said Toni Westland, supervisory refuge ranger and “Ding” Days committee co-chair.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge sponsors “Ding” Darling Days with support from Tarpon Bay Explorers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other private and business partners.

For a complete schedule of events, click here