The thousands of Sandhill Cranes that congregate in Othello in the early spring are heart-stirring, yet there is much more at this annual, well-organized festival to see, do, and learn. The festival helps you explore the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and Potholes Reservoir region, very different ecosystems from Western Washington, full of flora, fauna, and birds which we seldom see on our side of the Cascades. The theme for the 2018 Othello Crane Festival is “H20 Birds on the Go,” highlighting the importance of water in the Columbia Basin. Saturday evening’s keynote speaker will be Stefan Schlick of the Portland Audubon Society, who will recount human fascination with cranes through the centuries. The town of Othello opens its doors and hearts to visitors during the festival. For full information, see www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org.