The annual celebration of many things that soar and crawl and maybe even creep returns this week to Infinity Acres.
Maybe you’ve been out to Ridgeway to see all the exotic and domestic animals. Perhaps you’ve been up close and personal with some of them.
In case you haven’t, Infinity Acres Ranch is a non-profit organization that offers exotic and domestic animal educational programs for the community. It’s home to the Llama 4-H Club, a petting zoo and is a destination for school field trips, parties and events.
Infinity Acres is owned and operated by Laura and Rick Steere, known affectionately as “Llama Laura” and “Rancher Rick,” and features a wide variety of animals, including exotic birds, reptiles and marsupials.
And on Saturday at Infinity Acres’ fifth annual Spring Carnival, you can see some new stuff.
"New attractions are added each year,” Laura Steere said.
This year that includes Pirates of the Piedmont, hula dancing demos and old-fashioned hay wagon rides.
She said falconer Robb Hearst will be giving an owl presentation at noon Saturday, demonstrating three species of federally permitted educational owls: a barn owl, a Eurasian Eagle Owl and an Eastern Screech Owl.
Steere will offer a kangaroo/wallaby presentation that will feature a red kangaroo named Didgeridoo, and two red-necked wallabies – Karma and Kismet.
“Hopefully one day they will make beautiful joeys together,” she said.
Pirates of the Piedmont aren’t really pirates or even 4-legged animals, of course. They describe themselves as “a crew of scoundrels on a quest to bring entertainment to Virginia and the Carolinas through music, storytelling and humor.’
Greg Hackenburg, a science teacher who roams the high seas of Martinsville Middle School, manages the group.
“We're really excited to play at Infinity Acres Spring Carnival for the first time,” he said. “We're looking forward to singing fun songs to all our little pirate friends.”
The whole event is a fundraiser to support the ranch and its many programs and facilities.
“Our goal this year is to build a wheelchair accessible bathroom as an addition to the school house,” Laura Steere said.
"We want everyone to know about our school tours, Animal Adventure Camp, family ranch experiences, intern and community service opportunities and the ENABLE [Enriching Nurturing Animal Based Learning Experiences] program,” Rick Steere said.
ENABLE is a Virginia-licensed day support program for adults with disabilities in which the participants interact with animals.
So for a $2 admission or a $5 bracelet for kids on Saturday you can ride the Piggy Train from Spencer-Penn Centre and pet a lot of those animals in the zoo. You even can escort a llama through an obstacle course.
“We want our want our local community not only know who we are and what we do, but hopefully be engaged, involved, be interested and participate,” Laura Steere said.