The biggest festival of the year is Sept. 1!

Photo of a child with a butterfly mask on

We love pollinators at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

That love is shared with hundreds of people during the annual Bee & Butterfly Festival, held 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, this year.

“The Bee & Butterfly Festival is our biggest event of the year,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator for Dickinson County Conservation. “We love seeing the smiles on both kids’ and adults’ faces as they hold a monarch butterfly or get a photo taken with Sweetie the Bee. Plus, we hope people find a passion for pollinators along the way.”

The fun begins at 4 p.m. with live monarch butterfly tagging. Participants will gently place a sticker with a tag number on a butterfly’s wing and take it outside to release it. Keep your butterfly’s tag number to track it through the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch program.

From 4-7 p.m., stop by a variety of craft booths in an outdoor tent in Kenue Park. Make a butterfly mask and antennas to wear; create a butterfly from an egg carton and a bee from a paper plate, and try your hand at pollinator origami.

Also in the tent will be a variety of vendors, including Boernsen Bees, the Nature Store, The Prairie Flower and Soy Candles by Julie. Cotton candy will also be for sale for $2, with proceeds going to the Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County, and the Farm to Fork food truck will be on hand outside with delectable dinner offerings.

Head down to Pollinator Paradise throughout the event to see exhibits on butterflies, bees and native plantings or play outdoor lawn games like bee and butterfly giant Jenga, ladder golf and pollinator bean bag toss.

At 4:30 p.m. Anita Westphal, a butterfly wing assistant at Reiman Gardens in Ames, will speak in the outdoor amphitheater about her experiences and the importance of butterflies. Then Jessie Lowry, the conservation manager at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, will talk about the 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, SD, will bring out live animals 6:30 p.m. in the amphitheater, talking about how different creatures have adapted to the habitats they live in. Following the presentation, the zookeeper will allow audiences the chance to touch one of the animals as well.

The culminating presentation of the festival will be a honey extraction demonstration by Boernsen Bees at 7:15 p.m. in the lower level of the Dickinson County Nature Center. See how honey is taken from the honeycomb and even sample some of the fresh treat. Seating is limited for this popular program.

“All ages are invited to this free event,” Roth said. “From the monarch tagging to the crafts to the speakers, there really is something for everyone.”

For more information on the Bee & Butterfly Festival or other nature center offerings, visit our environmental education page or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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