Change is the only constant and this year’s sixth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival will be substantially different from years’ past.

The FREE, family friendly event has a new venue this year: Confluence Park. It takes place this Saturday, October 16, 9:30AM – 2 PM.

Confluence Park–Courtesy photo

Confluence Park ranks as a San Antonio gem and sits at the intersection of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River. It punctuates one of the most significant urban riparian restorations in the world and contributed in large part to San Antonio winning the prestigious International River Prize in 2017. And since monarch butterflies migrating this time of year typically follow waterways in search of nectar to fuel their journey, few settings could be more appropriate.

The Festival kicks off with a People for Pollinators Parade. Get your wings on and gather at 9:30 at the top of the staircase that overlooks the river near the giant petal pavilion. Leading the procession: our charismatic emcee and host, Adam Tutor.

Programming will follow promptly at 10 AM with more than 30 partners offering myriad engaging activities–story times, composting lessons, make- your-own-butterfly wings, and more. Highlights below. Pollinator art will be on display in the Estela Avery Education Center and pollinator poetry will recited on the main stage.

Full schedule and map here.

We’ll be tagging monarch butterflies all day. Trained docents will occupy “tagging zones” to demonstrate this engaging act of citizen science. Look for stars on the map to find the docents. We’ll record the date, time, place and sex of the butterfly tagged, as well as the person who tagged it.

Learn to tag a monarch butterfly! Photo by Monika Maeckle

If you want to tag a butterfly in honor of someone who died, head over to the Forever Journey altar, where we’ll pay our respects to loved ones by tagging butterflies in their name. We ask that everyone please respect our six-foot social distancing requirement.

Ever want to give kayaking a whirl? Our partners at Mission Kayak will have 10 kayaks available for free tours in a low flow pool near the park. Kids of all ages can don a life vest and give our Bee Adventure a try–all while emulating nature’s most effective pollinators gathering pollen in the wild. Upcycled Bee headband made in partnership with Spare Parts will be provided at no charge. Kayaks, paddles, life jackets and expert advice, by veteran kayakers will be available, too.

Kayak like a bee! Graphic by Ashley Bird

Want to learn the Waggle Dance? That’s the hip-shaking, butt-bumping dance that bees do to communicate with each other where the best nectar flow is. That’s right–bees can direct their peers to plants that are rich with nectar. They do an amazing figure eight dance. Local dance instructor Mau Garcia will lead the crowd at noon on the main stage to teach you how its done. Watch for the (non stinging) Compost Queen Bee Swarm on roller skates to chime in, too.

A word about parking. If you don’t join us on foot, bicycle, or via rideshare or bus, you’ll have to think about parking. Some street parking is available, but we anticipate a large crowd, so Festival organizers have arranged for FREE parking at several nearby lots, including:

Each of these lots are within a few minutes walk of Confluence Park. Look for the Festival Parking signs and check out this map.

Bees do a Waggle Dance to communicate to their peers where the nectar is flowing. Video by Bienentanz GmbH

And a word about our COVID protocols. Please pack masks as you head to the Festival. Even though we’ll be outdoors, you may find yourself unable to maintain a safe, six-foot social distance. Please wear your mask when you are closer than six feet to others, especially when tagging butterflies with volunteer docents. Festival staff are fully vaccinated, but we ask that you wear your mask when you are interacting with exhibitors, presenters, artists, and festival-goers.

THANK YOU for working with us to keep everyone safe!

MUCH GRATITUDE to the San Antonio River Foundation for serving as our title sponsor. And to the John and Florence Newman Foundation, the Winkler Family Foundation, Valero Energy, HEB, the San Antonio River Authority, and the William Knox Holt Foundation. We couldn’t do it without the support of friends like you. Gracias!

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