Paying obeisance to monarchs (monarch butterflies, that is) at Lake Nokomis


A celebration of the monarch butterfly’s amazing 2,000-mile migration from Minnesota to Mexico will take place on Saturday, September 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lake Nokomis.

The monarch is our official state butterfly, and in order to successfully reproduce next spring they require milkweed plants all the way from Minnesota to Mexico. Before the 1850s, Minneapolis was an oak savanna plant community covered with prairie grasses, wildflowers, and oak trees. Now due to increased land development and herbicide use, monarchs’ habitats and food sources are being threatened.

The festival begins with a kids’ butterfly run and a five-kilometer run. Proceeds will benefit monarch butterfly habitats in Minneapolis Parks and the biosphere reserve in the state of Michoacan, Mexico.

Music and dance will also begin at 9 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m. Danza Mexica Cuauhtemac (Aztec dancers), Larry Long with Fiddin’ Pete and Joe Savage, and an Anishinabe Medewin Water Ceremony are a just a few of the eight performances that day.

The University of Minnesota monarch lab will help you tag and release butterflies that day. Your yard can also be certified and registered as a waystation by Monarch Watch. Two nurseries, Landscape Alternatives and Outback Nursery, will sell native plants.

Art and games will include monarch mancala; making seed mudballs; and games of butterfly bingo, butterfly migration, and butterfly Jeopardy. Costumes are encouraged: butterfly wings, antennae, or a caterpillar look.

“We want to see more and more of the Latino communities become a part of this yearly event,” says MaryLynn Pulscher, environmental education coordinator for the Minneapolis Parks. “This year we are anticipating that the festival could bring out 500 people. People can volunteer by helping with tagging the butterflies, making mudballs, helping with set up or tear down, and by assisting with the run or walk.” For more information on attending and volunteering, see

Jeanette Fordyce contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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