Brevard – The first Mountain Monarch Festival will be held at the park’s visitor center on Saturday, September 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.The festival will celebrate the monarch butterfly during its migration and bring attention to the species’ declining numbers.
The park lies along the monarch’s migratory route. The butterflies can be seen in late September each year, flying over the park’s visitor center on their way south 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, live music, a food truck, a festive photo board, local art for sale, and a Monarch Migration Passport to lead families through monarch-themed activities. A keynote presentation will be offered by Mr. Heyward Douglas, an entomologist who has worked as a park naturalist and served on the Foothills Trail Conservancy’s board of directors since 1989. Mr. Douglas has visited the monarch’s wintering area in Mexico.
Monarch butterflies have two sets of deep orange and black wings and a wingspan of three to four inches. Male Monarchs have two black spots in the center of their hind wings. 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. Those who wish to help monarchs return to healthy population levels can plant locally native milkweed and nectar flowers in their yards and support efforts to reduce pesticide use.
The Mountain Monarch Festival is sponsored by Friends of Gorges State Park and organized in partnership with Monarch Watch, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, and the N.C. Department of Commerce. Admission, music, and programs at the festival will be free. The park requests that those who plan to attend register by emailing “Monarch Festival Registration” and the number of people in your party to email@example.com. The festival will be held rain or shine.
For event details, visit https://www.ncparks.gov/events-and-programs.