San Antonio sees monarch butterflies off with pre-migration festival
It sounds like the setup for a joke, but monarch butterflies and bees do have something in common, besides being some of the cuter insects that people gravitate toward. Both are important pollinators, and both need people's help to thrive in the increasingly urban areas in Central Texas.
Rounding up bipedal supporters of these winged friends, the eighth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is returning to San Antonio's Brackenridge Park on October 7. It's still a little far out, but people who want to plan their monarch costumes will have plenty of time to get their orange and black on.
The free all-ages festival focuses both on fun and education. Two event partners join in: Blooming with Birdie, which makes all-ages immersive educational experiences, will translate some of inherent lessons of pollinators for kids; and the Brackenridge Park Conservancy, which works in park advocacy and preservation.
It's not just passive learning: The festival aims to foster hands-on connection between visitors, the environment, and by extension some local pollinators like bees, bats, and hummingbirds. (This "extension" is because we, of course, do not want hands-on experience with wasps, even though they are also great pollinators.) Guests will learn something but also become more deeply in touch with nature in their figurative backyard.
More than 30 educational partners will be onsite, managing the experience of an expected 3,500 attendees. Some of the activities will include monarch tagging for a citizen science project; planting trees; honoring the butterflies' return to Mexico with a Día de los Muertos altar; and embodying your favorite pollinators through costumes, face painting, dance, and an obstacle course.
San Antonio was the first Monarch Champion City in the United States, as declared by the National Wildlife Federation. Mayor Ron Nirenberg makes an annual pledge to keep helping the monarchs; This year's items include issuing a proclamation about declining numbers and the need for a habitat, planting milkweed for the butterflies to eat, and converting vacant lots to monarch habitats, among many things.
The Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival will take place on October 7 from 9 am to 1 pm. More information is available at bloomingwithbirdie.com.