The screen tent doorway opens and out walks a child with a monarch butterfly gently pinched between her fingers.
She holds out her hand, opens her fingers, and the butterfly alights. Its orange and black wings flap as it finds the breeze and floats away, onward and upward until it finds its winter home outside of Mexico City.
Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrates up to 2,500 miles to find their winter home, and that’s just one of the amazing facts that make them worthy of celebration during the annual Bee & Butterfly Festival at the Dickinson County Nature Center.
This year’s festival will take place 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, and in addition to monarch tagging will also have plenty of speakers and other entertainment.
The entertainment schedule will begin with a presentation at 4:30 p.m. by Anita Westphal, the butterfly wing assistant at Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames. Then at 5:30 p.m. Jessie Lowry, the conservation manager at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, will talk about their Plant.Grow.Fly. pollinator program and how we can all make a difference in bringing back pollinator populations.
The Great Plains Zoomobile from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will bring four live animals for a featured presentation at 6:30 p.m. during the festival.
“Adapted to the Habitat is a program when we discuss four different habitats and the adaptations animals have to survive in that habitat,” said Leigh Spencer, education services manager for the Great Plains Zoo.
An education specialist with the zoo will bring four animals from four different habitats --- whether that be desert, wetland, forest, ocean, prairie or urban --- and will discuss how those animals survive. Then the audience will have the opportunity to come forward to touch one of the featured animals.
Also from 4-7 p.m. will be the monarch butterfly tagging, bee- and butterfly-themed crafts in the outdoor tent, vendor tables, tours through Pollinator Paradise and outdoor games. The Farm to Fork food truck will be on site for those who want to purchase dinner, and cotton candy will also be for sale with proceeds going to the Pollinator Paradise addition at the Dickinson County Nature Center.
Plus, Sweetie the Bee will take pictures with kids and adults throughout the event, and anyone who meets her will get a free honey stick.
The Bee & Butterfly Festival will culminate with a honey extraction demonstration by Boernsen Bees at 7:15 p.m. in the lower level of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Seating will be limited and will be allowed on a first-come-first-served basis.
For more information on the Bee & Butterfly Festival and other Dickinson County Nature Center programming, visit the Dickinson County Nature Center website or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.