“We expanded to two days to help spread out the crowd and make the event more enjoyable for everyone due to the growth in attendance over the years,” said center community programs Director Rebecca Gilbert.
“This has definitely turned into a can’t-miss festival. We hear that from our visitors all the time. They can’t wait for summer to come around to bring their whole family out.”
Butterfly-themed activities will abound. One of the most popular features, releases of hundreds of live butterflies that land on both people and flowers, occurs on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Henning von Schmeling, center director of operations, explained why the colorful insects alight on humans.
“Butterflies and bees are guided by sight and smell,” he said. “Butterflies need salt and when we are outside in the sun, we smell good to them with our sweaty skin.” This year, an expanded Butterfly Encounter tented exhibit allows visitors to hand-feed more than 250 free flying butterflies.
Kids can get their faces painted with butterflies and caterpillars and create butterfly sidewalk art.
John Huth, a ranger with the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, will show and tell all about the various butterflies found in the region along the river, and the Georgia Nature Photography Club will be there to demonstrate how to best photograph them.
“We have seen a big growth in the number of photographers that come out to the event. It’s a great opportunity for those experienced in photography, as well as those newcomers, to get practice since our butterfly garden is in full bloom and there are so many butterflies around,” Gilbert said.
Butterfly attracting pollinator and host plants will be on sale for our avid gardeners. On Saturday, there is live bluegrass music with the Cedar Hill Bluegrass Band, and Todd Key’s Flying Debris Show entertains on Sunday. Among the many vendors at the festival will be Joseph’s Colours, with original designs of nature/garden apparel and gifts including butterfly, bird, and lady bug motifs; recycled steel yard art and sculptures by Kathy Walton; butterfly and dragonfly bracelets and other handcrafted jewelry by Mystery Gems & Accessories; vintage prints and fabric collages by Sandies Label; and butterfly, eagle and dragonfly kites by Kites in Flight. Food for sale will be available from Shane’s BBQ, The Pup Truck and Bruster’s Ice Cream.
At the end of each day’s festival activities, children who dress in butterfly wings or sport some caterpillar antenna can march in butterfly parades. Admission is $12 at the nature center entrance, $8 for members, and free for kids age 2 and under. Additional parking is available at the St. Francis School on Willeo Road just south of Ga. 120 and a free shuttle bus service is provided.
The nature center’s first live butterfly exhibit tent will stay open until July 31. There will be hundreds of free flying, native butterfly species in this temporary live butterfly exhibit. Butterfly host and nectar plants will be on sale.
The exhibit is open each day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is included with general admission to the nature center. The nature center is at 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell.
For more information, visit www.chattnaturecenter.org.