Looking for a unique, fun and educational event for the whole family? Then Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is the place to be this Saturday.

The center will host the annual Shoal Creek Water Festival, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free – except for those who are entering the cardboard boat race – and open to the public.

For more information about the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center or to register for programs, call 782-6287 or log on to the website at www.wildcatglades.audubon.org.

“Our water festival really has a variety of activities that are going to be going on,” said Chris Pistole, education director at the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center. “Some of them are really more just for fun, just to kind of celebrate that we have this great water resource here that we utilize so much. The other activities – especially the booths that will be set up – many of them will have an educational component. We kind of mix the two things, we definitely want people to have fun, but we also hope that they will learn something about water and our most precious resource.”

This will be the fifth year the water festival has been held. But for the cardboard boat event, Pistole said it was added several years ago.

“It is really popular in other locations, you see lots of YouTube videos, places that do this and other water festivals that do this some,” Pistole said. “So we thought that would be a really nice addition.”

These boats are made out of cardboard and duct tape and are made for adults to float down Shoal Creek for the event. See the Wildcat Glades & Audubon website for a complete list of rules for the event.

“We are continuing that, it is one of those more fun aspects of the festival,” said Pistole. “It gets people out on the water. With a lot of them, the groups kind of challenge each other.”

Another fun event is for the kids.

“One thing that we added last year that was really popular – we expect it to grow a lot this year – is a shoebox boat race for kids,” said Pistole, also noting to view the website for complete details of that event.

“Last year, we had 14 or 15 of the adult boats and about 50 of the shoebox boats for the kids. Right now, we have fewer entries in for the adults, the kids we expect will surpass last year.”

The shoebox boat event begins at 11:30 a.m., with the adult cardboard boat event from noon to 2 p.m.

On the educational side of things, there will be various booths.

“We have different groups that will have a water-related message or theme,” said Pistole. “One of the new ones we are adding this year is Green Town Joplin, they are non-profit. One of the things they are doing at their booth is to focus on ways that we can conserve water in our homes, especially with some of the new construction that is going on. Even people that didn't lose their home to the tornado, things that they can do at home to help conserve water, especially now that it is on everybody's mind with the drought.”

There will be entertainment for the spectators.

“This is the first time we have ever had the Fishin' Magicians. They are a magic act, but weave a conservation them into their act,” said Pistole.

They will be at 10:30 a.m.

The second entertainment group will be at 1 p.m. and they are the World Bird Center from St. Louis, and will have live birds of prey.