The butterflies are back.
After a hiatus last year, the Dunwoody Nature Center will reprise its popular butterfly festival Aug. 18 with games, crafts, animals and of course, a tent filled with hundreds of colorful, fluttering butterflies.
“This year we’re really excited to be bringing the butterflies back,” said Alan Mothner, executive director of the Dunwoody Nature Center. “This is really our annual Dunwoody event.”
The center expects it will draw about 2,000 people looking to interact with the butterflies and watch them feed on flowers and fruit.
Mothner said the organization skipped the festival last year as part of a larger effort to refocus its activities.
But Nature Center officials agreed that the festival was one of the best ways to bring people in so they could do what they do best: “inspire a love of nature and cultivate environmental understanding,” Mothner said.
Mothner said he hopes to introduce the people at this year’s festival to the plants, critters and programs the nature center has to offer.
Tucked away off of Roberts Drive, the Nature Center is a quiet patch of green space that includes special gardens designed to attract pollinating insects, an emphasis on native plant species, and even a “teaching hive” where people can watch thousands of buzzing bees hard at work through a pane of glass.
Dunwoody Nature Center’s Butterfly Festival
WHERE: At the Nature Center – 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, 30338
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 18. There will be an early opening at 9 a.m. for Nature Center members only.
COST: $8 for adults, $5 for children 4-12 and free for kids 3 and under
FOR MORE INFO: www.dunwoodynature.org
“We do so much here at the nature center that the Dunwoody community and the greater Atlanta community may not be aware of,” Mothner said.
For example, Mothner said the center recently received a $50,000 grant to restore a meadow on the grounds that has been damaged by runoff and erosion. On Aug. 21, the center will begin building a tiered rain garden that will help catch and divert rain water.
“We can use the Butterfly Festival to explain to people the impacts of erosion,” Mothner said. “By doing a rain garden in your own home, you can control that storm water runoff.”
And what better ambassador to the natural world than the butterfly?
Hundreds of the delicate, colorful insects will be making a road trip from Greathouse Butterfly Farm in Florida for the festival.
In addition to the butterfly tent, Mothner said there will be plenty of other activities to keep people busy during the day: a birds of prey show, garden tours, geocaching, a magic show and live music.
Mothner said they have fun with the theme, even down to the refreshments. The kids’ favorite is a lemonade and gummy worm concoction called “larval lemonade.”
Mothner said the festival is an inexpensive way for families to do something special together. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-12 and free for kids 3 and under.
“It’s a nice way to celebrate the end of summer,” Mothner said. “It’s been extremely popular locally in Dunwoody and around Atlanta.”
For the first time this year, the nature center partnered with the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau to market the festival.
“There’s so many possibilities now to take it beyond Dunwoody,” said Katie Brenckle, director of the Dunwoody CVB. “What our goal is for the future is to work with all our attractions for opportunities to pull from outside Dunwoody and possibly beyond metro Atlanta.”
Brenckle said the Butterfly Festival was able to snag a spot in Southern Living magazine’s calendar, which she believes will raise the profile of the event.
“It’s sort of a stamp of approval if you will from this premier publication,” she said. “You open the door for a greater audience.”