Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars of the Show: Butterflies; 1,000 Released at Tree Hill Center

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars of the Show: Butterflies; 1,000 Released at Tree Hill Center

Article excerpt

Byline: MARIA CONNOR

Word's gotten around: get to the Tree Hill Nature Center's Butterfly Festival in Arlington, and get there early.

That's just what residents did recently, lining up outside even before the center's signature annual event had officially started.

Adults meandered through trails, along which artists, vendors, and environmental agencies had set up displays. Crafts, plants and other merchandise tempted a cause-worthy purchase. There was a silent auction and nature store to wander through. For those who came for an educational experience, lectures and presentations were provided.

"We wanted to get very involved in the community, get more exposure and have a festival that drew people to the site the rest of the year," said Matt McAfee, Tree Hill board president.

Kids had a more difficult time deciding where to start. Fun beckoned from every grassy corner. There were animal encounters, arts and crafts, face painting, drumming with musician Ken Anoff, relay races, gridiron football and birdhouses to build. Many children, especially toddlers, were drawn to a huge butterfly canopy that they raced around, through and under.

Exhausted children and adults took a break at the outdoor amphitheater to hear musicians, poets and entertainers.

The key exhibit at the festival was a butterfly encounter. Constructed in a screen tent with bushes, trees and flowers that attract the tiny winged creatures, the encounter allowed attendees to get close. Butterflies alighted on fingertips, shoulders, hands and arms. At the end of the festival, more than 1,000 butterflies were released from the tent.

"The purpose [of the exhibit] is to have people understand the value of planning for wildlife," said Lucy Cortese, Tree Hill executive director. "We are offering plants and trees that you can put in your own garden and attract nature to your yard. …

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