The University of Tennessee Arboretum Society will present its seventh annual Butterfly Festival on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m at the UT Arboretum Auditorium and surrounding grounds, 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge.
The entrance fee is $5 in cash (to facilitate entry) per carload. All other expenses can be made with cash or credit card. The gate will be open at 9:30 a.m. The event will take place rain or shine. Children’s craft activities will be available at a cost of a $1 ticket per activity or $5 for six tickets. Activities include temporary tattoos, butterfly masks, Magic Color Scratch butterfly ornaments, decorating cookies, caterpillar bracelets, and more.
Co-sponsored by the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, the event is designed for children and adults of all ages. Ample parking is in designated areas of the UT Arboretum adjacent to the event.
One of the day’s highlights will be the release of 500 painted lady butterflies promptly at 12:00 p.m., noon. Please plan enough time for arrival and parking before the release. It is suggested that butterflies be purchased early in the day due to limited supply, on a first come first served basis. Children are invited to help release the butterflies, which will be offered at a cost of $5 per butterfly to cover costs. Cash or credit cards will be accepted. For the safety of all, the use of butterfly nets at this event is strictly prohibited.
Two speakers will give presentations in the air-conditioned UT Arboretum Auditorium. From 10:00 to 10:45, Stephen Lyn Bales will present “Our Beloved Butterflies and Their Hosts.” Stephen Lyn is the monthly educator for the UT Arboretum Society’s virtual Zoom educational program, the First Thursday Nature Supper Club. He is a retired senior naturalist of Ijams Nature Center and author of three books: Natural Histories, Ghost Birds, and Ephemeral by Nature. These books, as well as his beautiful notecards, will be available for sale. At 11 a.m., Georgann Eubanks will present “Habitat Heroes: Saving the Wild South for Us All.” Georgann writes about the history, culture, and environment of the South. Her latest book considers how the region’s incredible biodiversity helps to shape our culture and identity as Southerners. This book, Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction, will be available for purchase and signing. In addition to these two speakers, Dr. Shirley Raines, local author of two children’s books entitled Butterflies and Bees, will have her books for sale.
Children of all ages will enjoy experiencing the UT Insect Zoo, a travelling exhibit of insects. 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 Insect Zoo showcases preserved and live insects and arachnids (scorpion, tarantula, etc.) found in Tennessee and throughout the world. Two butterfly viewing tents will be open for a closer look at butterflies and insects.
The festival will feature local artisans Kathy Fahey, Stephen Lyn Bales, Brad Greenwood, Kris Light, and Teresa Myrick, all offering butterfly-themed merchandise. Food trucks such as Forks on the Road and Mediterranean Delight will offer varied options for lunch. More information will follow. Please bring refillable water bottles.