People and butterflies connect at Minneapolis Monarch Festival

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People of all ages and backgrounds came together on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at the Monarch Festival on Lake Nokomis to share their love for the monarch butterfly.

That’s what Lis Young-Isebrand of the Monarch Lab at the University of Minnesota loves about this annual event.

“One of the best parts of the Monarch Festival for me is when I witness kids and adults becoming empowered to help the monarchs that they love. Many participants were surprised to learn that monarch larvae only eat milkweed and that they can grow this beautiful plant in their yards! They get excited and I am quite sure that many of them will increase monarch habitat,” said Young-Isebrand.

During the monarch tagging, Young-Isebrand encouraged participants to touch the butterfly. “People are so gentle and respectful,” she observed. “It seems a real connection between this small insect and people is made once they are allowed to touch them.”

“We had a great time,” noted Crystal Wood of Minneapolis after she and her daughter created a mudball containing a milkweed seed to plant in their own garden.

The 2011 stage line-up featured performances by Mariachi Mi Tierra, the Javier Trejo Trio (Mexican/Americana), Larry Long (American folk), the Tropical Zone Orchestra (salsa), KetzalCoatlicue (Aztec dance), Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca (traditional dance), Larrie Yazzie (Native American Fancy Dance) and Batak (fusion jazz).

“Our show promotes the mutual sharing between people beyond boundaries,” observed Pedro Fonseca of the Tropical Zone Orchestra. “If the ecosystems and small creatures work in harmony, we should be able to do so.”

There were numerous activities, including the Butterfly Fun Run, canoe tours of Lake Nokomis, and guided tours of the NatureScape. The steamroller operated by ArtOrg and Grupo Soap del Corazon, rolled over special print blocks created by kids to make individual butterfly artwork. Local vendors sold Hispanic and American food.

The festival is organized by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association and Community Celebration of Place. Learn more at the bilingual web site: www.monarchfestival.org.

“The volunteers, participants and organizers all did a wonderful job celebrating and promoting conservation for the monarch.  Everything went smoothly and it is because of the hard work of the volunteers!” stated Young-Isebrand.

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