A state park in the migratory path of the monarch butterfly will host a festival to raise awareness about the declining population of this colorful creature.
Gorges State Park in Transylvania County will host the second annual Mountain Monarch Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the park's visitor center. The festival will celebrate the monarch butterfly during its migration south through North Carolina to the high-elevation fir forests of Mexico's Neovolcanic Mountains, where they overwinter until early spring.
The festival will offer educational programs and exhibits featuring the monarch butterfly, including monarch-themed children's crafts, plus live music, food trucks, a live photo board, face painting, local art for sale and a Monarch Migration Passport to lead families through monarch-themed activities.
Heyward Douglas, an entomologist who has worked as a park naturalist and served on the Foothills Trail Conservancy's board of directors since 1989, will be the featured speaker. He has visited the monarch's wintering area in Mexico.
The migratory subspecies of the monarch was recently added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "red list" of the most threatened species on Earth and is now listed as endangered. Monarch butterflies have two sets of deep orange and black-in-color wings and a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches. Male monarchs can be identified by the two black spots in the center of their hind wings. Monarchs thrive on milkweed, a native North Carolina plant. Those who wish to help monarchs return to healthy population levels can plant milkweed in their yards and support efforts to reduce pesticide use.
The Mountain Monarch Festival is sponsored by the Friends of Gorges State Park and organized in partnership with Monarch Watch, Translyvania County Tourism Development Authority, Translyvania County Library, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina Department of Commerce, EcoExplorer at the North Carolina Arboretum, Translyvania County 4-H, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service – Grand Canyon. Admission, music, and programs at the festival are free of charge. The festival will be held rain or shine.
For event details and to RSVP, visit the Friends of Gorges website: