Bison return to Afton’s Belwin Conservancy this weekend

A herd of 29 juvenile male bison will arrive Saturday at their Afton summer home — 130 fenced-in acres at Belwin Conservancy.

The herd is on loan from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wis., which raises the animals for meat. While at Belwin, they graze freely and help restore the prairie.

The Saturday release, which is open to the public, has become a popular event. Hundreds of visitors attend the event each spring.

The bison are scheduled to arrive at noon.

The Belwin Bison Festival, which takes place at Belwin’s Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields, starts at 10 a.m. with a 5K “Run with the Bison” fun run through the prairie. Registration is required. The cost is $20 through noon on Friday; the day-of entry fee is $25. The run is free for children 12 and under, but they must be registered by a parent or guardian through the online system, or sign a waiver in person on Saturday. Check-in begins at 9 a.m., and the line-up starts at 9:45 a.m.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be family-friendly activities including educational displays, live music, interactive eco-art and food trucks. The cost to attend the bison release is $10 per car; cash or check only, payable as you drive in; no RSVP is required. Dogs are not allowed at the event.

Event details, including parking and shuttle information, can be found at

Visitors can view the bison at Belwin throughout the summer via a two-story observation platform, open daily from dawn to dusk.

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