The annual Butterfly Festival will feature an educational release of 500 butterflies and an insect zoo at the University of Tennessee Arboretum on Saturday, September 17.
It’s the seventh annual festival, and it’s scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. September 17 in the UT Arboretum Auditorium and surrounding area at 901 South Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge.
The festival is presented by the UT Arboretum Society. The purpose is to educate the public and teach people how to protect these pollinators, a press release said.
The UT Insect Zoo, two butterfly tents, educational lectures, a butterfly release, and children’s art activities are among the educational activities that will be offered, the press release said.
The butterfly release is scheduled for noon.
“Please plan enough time for arrival and parking before the release,” the press release said.
Children can help release the 500 painted lady butterflies. The cost is $5 per butterfly, and cash or credit cards will be accepted. The charge is to cover costs, the press release said. Butterflies should be purchased early in the day due to a limited supply.
“For the safety of all, the use of butterfly nets at this event is strictly prohibited,” the release said.
The UT Insect Zoo is a traveling insect exhibit that showcases preserved and live insects and arachnids (scorpions, tarantulas, etc.) that are found in Tennessee and throughout the world. Children of all ages will enjoy the zoo, the press release said.
“The goal of the Insect Zoo is to have fun while sharing knowledge of insects with others to help them appreciate the important role of insects in our environment,” the release said.
Those who attend will be able to get a better look at butterflies and insects in two butterfly viewing tents staffed by members of the University of Tennessee Entomology and Plant Pathology Department.
Two speakers will give presentations in the air-conditioned UT Arboretum Auditorium. From 10 to 10:40 a.m., naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales will present “Our Beloved Butterflies and Their Hosts.” Bales is the monthly educator for the UT Arboretum Society’s virtual Zoom education program, the First Thursday Nature Supper Club. He is a retired senior naturalist from Ijams Nature Center and author of three books, “Natural Histories,” “Ghost Birds,” and “Ephemeral by Nature,” that will be available for sale.
Following Bales, writer Georgann Eubanks will present “Habitat Heroes: Saving the Wild South for Us All” starting at 10:50 a.m. Eubanks writes about the history, culture, and environment of the South, the press release said. Her latest book, “Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction,” will be available for sale and signing. The book considers “how the region’s incredible biodiversity helps to shape our culture and identity as Southerners,” the press release said.
In addition to these two speakers, Shirley Raines, local author of two children’s books titled “Butterflies and Birds,” will have her books for sale.
Parking will be available in designated areas of the UT Arboretum adjacent to the festival and on a first-come, first-served basis. The entrance fee is $5 cash per carload. All other purchases can be made with cash or credit card, the press release said. The gate will open at 9:30 a.m., and the festival will take place rain or shine.
Children’s craft activities will be available at a cost of $1 ticket per activity or $5 for six tickets. The activities include temporary tattoos, butterfly masks, Magic Color Scratch butterfly ornaments, decorating cookies, caterpillar bracelets, and more.
The festival will feature local artists Kathy Fahey, Stephen Lyn Bales, Kris Light, and Teresa Myrick, all offering butterfly-themed merchandise, the press release said.
There will be food trucks at the festival, and the public can bring refillable water bottles.
The Butterfly Festival is co-sponsored by the UT Forest Resources Research and Education Center.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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