By Laura Smith
It all started a few years ago when volunteers for Friends of Sandy Creek Park planted a bunch of milkweed and other pollinator plants. Milkweed is the only source of food for Monarch butterflies. As payment for all their hard work, last year dozens of Monarchs showed up on their remarkable fall migration from Canada down to Mexico.
“We decided that we needed to share this,” says John Goebel, one of the loyal volunteers and also chair of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission. Thus, the first annual Sandy Creek Monarch Festival was born.
This Saturday, October 10, join Triangle Land Conservancy, volunteers, members of the community and special guests – including Durham Mayor Bill Bell – for food, music, and kids’ activities at Sandy Creek Park from noon to 4pm. Learn more about Monarch butterflies, enjoy a dance performance and butterfly parade, and go home with Monarch-friendly plants and seeds.
The milkweed at TLC’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve provides food for Monarchs and other pollinators like bees.
In an effort to get more of the community involved, Goebel gave Monarch caterpillars (now butterflies) to ten local schools, two libraries and one retirement community to raise. Durham Public Schools also has as many as 20 schools participating. There will be two butterfly releases of these Monarchs on Saturday to add to what Mother Nature brings.
“I’m excited that community members of all ages will have the opportunity to learn about and interact with this majestic member of the Nymphalidae family,” said event volunteer Tonya Taylor. “This festival represents a commitment to supporting habitat conservation for the Monarch and for pollinators in general.”
For more information and a schedule of events, visit Keep Durham Beautiful.
This Festival is brought to you by Friends of Sandy Creek Park, along with Triangle Land Conservancy, New Hope Audubon Society, Headwaters Sierra Club, the Center for North American Studies at Duke, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke, Durham Parks and Recreation, Keep Durham Beautiful, and the Durham Public Library.