Over three days and three events October 20 – 22, thousands of people came together online and in person to celebrate the Monarch butterfly migration during peak Monarch migration to make San Antonio’s first Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival a roaring success.
Kids scramble to get an up close look at Monarch butterflies. Photo by Scott Ball, Rivard Report
Or as we say in Spanish, un gran éxito.
One could argue (and I will) that we should expect nothing less from the country’s first Monarch Butterfly Champion City, so named by the National Wildlife Federation last December.
The Festival kicked off on Thursday, October 20 with the Buen Viaje, Mariposa Monarca! art show and celebration at the Mexican Cultural Institute in downtown San Antonio.
One of designers’ Pineda Covalín’s delectable Monarch butterfly gowns. Photo by Alex Holler
Recently arrived director Mónica del Arenal was so enthusiastic about the idea of a Monarch butterfly project when approached in August that within hours she had secured a commitment from Mexican nature photographer Ignacio Arcas to exhibit his work featuring the roosting sites in Michoacán.
Soon thereafter, del Arenal had a commitment from Pineda Covalín, Mexican fashion designers based in Mexico City who have an entire line of haute couture featuring textiles that show off the Monarch butterfly. The design company committed to making their permanent collection available for the exhibit. And then Mexican artist David Romero agreed to “bring the roost to San Antonio” by creating an installation at the Institute that replicates the roosting sites.
Romero arrived early in the week to install thousands of laser cut butterflies onto the light fixtures illuminating the staircase at the Institute. The effect is a dreamy interpretation of what many will never have the chance to see. The exhibit will be on display at the Institute until January 1.
Artist David Romero “brings the roost” to San Antonio. Photo by Rocio Guenther, Rivard Report
About 100 people attended the opening reception, which included a discussion by Mexican Forester Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saenz Romero, Arcas and myself. Read a full account of the reception written by Rocio Guenther of the Rivard Report.
On Friday, October 21, we hosted our symposium: Climate Change and the Monarch Butterfly Migration. All 144 seats sold out.
Savvy moderator Dan Goodgame led the panel–an equal mix of scientists and citizen scientists who represented all three countries touched by the butterflies’ unique migration. The hour-and-a-half discussion ended with questions from the audience at the intimate Pearl Studio.
Joining us for the symposium: Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, rock star climate change expert from Texas Tech University who had just returned from a visit to the White House where Leonardo DiCaprio asked her for her autograph; Cathy Downs, education outreach
specialist from Monarch Watch; Mexican Forester Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saenz Romero who had been visiting Trinity University as a guest professor in ecological sciences; and myself, standing in for Catalina Trail, founder of the Monarch butterfly roosting sites in 1975, who was unable to attend due to illness.
The lively discussion touched on everything from the pros and cons of Tropical milkweed Asclepias curassavica, to whether or not “assisted migration,” or moving the Oyamel forest in Mexico where the Monarchs roost 2,000 feet higher in elevation to save it from climate change constitutes “interfering with nature.” The entire conversation will be made available online in the next week or two. Until then, here’s a great wrap up by Mitchell Hagney of the Rivard Report.
Finally, on Saturday, October 22, our Festival proper took place. Somewhere between 5-7,000 people joined us at the Pearl, a mixed used development lauded for its sense of place and respect for history on the banks of the San Antonio River. The award-winning development lived a past life as the Pearl Brewery, and owners have painstakingly conserved its character.