The skies above Wimberley will glisten with the iridescent wings of thousands of butterflies on Saturday, April 20 during the 15th Annual Butterfly Festival at the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival will feature butterfly releases, games and crafts, a variety of nature activities, displays of butterfly art, concessions and live entertainment for all ages.
The festival, which celebrates spring, life and art, has become one of Wimberley’s most popular events, attracting thousands of people from throughout the region.
“It has brought such joy to so many people,” Ann Rolling, executive director of the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens, said. “Butterflies symbolize new life and new beginnings.”
Raising more than 3,000 butterflies that will be released at the festival is a community-wide effort. Businesses and individuals sponsor the 200 cages that are delivered to area classrooms during the first week of April. Each of the cages contains Painted Lady caterpillars, which are native to Central Texas. The students observe as the caterpillars create chrysalises and the butterflies emerge. The cages are then returned to the EmilyAnn for release during the festival.
Many classrooms will also receive an educational presentation from the Hays County Master Naturalists who provide an age-appropriate lesson on the butterfly's lifecycle and importance to our environment. Through their project at the EmilyAnn, these Texas Master Naturalists also help prepare the caterpillars to be distributed and deliver the cages to area schools.
Accompanying the festival is the EmilyAnn's Butterfly art competition, which attracts entries from students throughout the state. The art is judged by professional artists who select winners for each grade level (grades K through 12) in both fantasy and realistic categories. The entry selected as Best in Show is featured on the T-shirt and publicity for the next year's festival. Sloane Moore, a 10th grader at Frisco High School in Frisco, created this year’s iconic image, which features four story panels on a butterfly’s wings. “I’ve been entering the contest every year since middle school,” she said. “For this butterfly I was really inspired by the whole theme behind the Butterfly Festival: Celebrating life, bringing happiness to others, nature and the gift of joy it brings.” Sloane will be at the festival signing T-shirts featuring her butterfly design. Frisco ISD has been partnering with the EmilyAnn on the Butterfly Festival art project for 13 years, and this year the EmilyAnn will again welcome Frisco art teachers and students to Wimberley for the festival.
The festival day begins at 10 a.m. at the top of the hill at the EmilyAnn’s Veteran’s Memorial Plaza. The Opening Ceremony begins with Destination singing tunes from the 1940s. Rector Ben Nelson will give the invocation followed by a flag raising ceremony and a Memorial Butterfly Release. This year, the first release of butterflies will be in remembrance of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy. Weather permitting, the Commemorative Air Force will conduct a missing man formation flyover with World War II era planes.
Throughout the day, activities will be scattered across the EmilyAnn’s 12-acre site. Nature activities include a rain simulator and watershed/aquifer model, guided nature walks by the Hays County Master Naturalists; and a river view tank exhibit by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Back into Nature will have snakes on display and Spider Joe will make a presentation about local spiders. Smokey Bear and Mother Nature will make educational presentations.
Children will be able to decorate cookies, play games and create butterfly art and crafts. A new attraction this year will be chalk artist Johnny Villareal who will create a chalk mural on the EmilyAnn's main stage. Children will be able to add their own chalk art around the mural. The stars of the show will be released every half hour – by day’s end, 3,000 butterflies will flittering into the Texas sky.
For more information about the festival and year-round events at the EmilyAnn, visit www.emilyann.org .