OPINION

Wetlands Education Center Butterfly Festival to be held near Great Bend Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

Pam Martin, Education Specialist at Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
St. John News
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s Butterfly Festival, 592 NE K 156 Hwy, Great Bend, will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 18.  Pictured: The Painted Lady puppet.

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s Butterfly Festival, 592 NE K 156 Hwy, Great Bend, will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 18.  

All activities will be free. Masks will be required inside the building. 

Most activities will take place outdoors, including tagging monarch butterflies, crafts and the StoneLion Puppet Theatre’s “Backyard Buggin” at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.  

Featuring large, colorful puppets, “Backyard Buggin’” takes audience members on a trip through the grass where insects rule. The stage “grows” to make audience members bug size, and the bugs human size. Puppet characters include a dragonfly, painted lady butterfly, tree frog and slug. 

The show will take place on an outdoor stage. Attendees are asked to bring blankets and lawn chairs. StoneLion Puppet Theatre has been entertaining audiences for 29 years. The nonprofit company includes an international touring company and arts education teaching staff. The company will provide a puppet-making craft in between the two shows.  

Dancing butterflies will take center stage in KWEC’s auditorium, with the Barton Community College’s dancers providing two performances at 10:15 and 11 a.m. After the performances, dancers will conduct a short dance workshop for children, complete with costumes. The workshops will take place outside. There is a limit of 10 children per workshop and registration is required by calling KWEC. The registration deadline is Sept. 16. 

Nets and tags will be available for those who want to capture and tag monarch butterflies. Participants head out into the flower-filled fields and shelter belt around KWEC to hunt monarchs, with tagging leaders stationed along the trail to help with the tagging process. During the last five years, 17 tagged monarchs released at KWEC have been recovered from winter roosts in Mexico. 

Weather permitting, an exhibit beehive will be on display in the insect zoo, in addition to giant walking stick insects, butterflies, caterpillars, chrysalises and more. Kids can make a butterfly banner at the craft station in the multi-purpose shelter. 

Information on butterfly-friendly plantings will be available, along with examples of butterfly-friendly plants in the KWEC pollinator garden. Native flower seed packets, which include milkweed, can be picked up at the station. 

For more information, contact KWEC at 877-243-9268 or visit wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.