Bee and Butterfly Fest scales back during pandemic

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Dickinson County Naturalist Ashley Hansen helped some of the younger visitors to Dee's Bee and Butterfly Festival release their monarch butterflies sometimes with a few giggles.
Photo by Seth Boyes

The Dickinson County Nature Center's annual Bee and Butterfly Festival was spread out over the course of four days due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors were asked to sign up for one-hour time slots on one of four days last week. Bryanna Kuhlman, environmental education coordinator with the nature center, said an estimated 245 people attended over the week.

A storybook walk through the prairie grasses of the Dickinson County Nature Center made for an ideal socially distant activity during this year's festival.
Photo by Seth Boyes

The yearly celebration of popular pollinators was rebranded as "Dee's Bee and Butterfly Festival" last year to honor the event's founder Delores Maser. The first festival was held in 2006, and the available activities grew each year to attract more and more members of the community. With attendance capped and social distance in mind, this year's level of activity was closer to those early years than the bustling atmosphere the Lakes Area has come to know.

Organizers with Dee's Bee and Butterfly Festival asked visitors to sign up for one-hour time slots on one of four days in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Seth Boyes

Visitors were still able to participate in the festival's staple event the release of tagged butterflies. The black and orange monarch butterflies can be identified by a unique serial number and can be tracked on their migration south. With the main building not yet open to the public during the extended event, the mesh tent containing the monarchs was set up nearby in the open lawn. The ever-present Sweetie the Bee was also there to welcome youngsters with high fives, fist bumps and friendly waves.

Signs also guided visitors on a storybook walk through the property's prairie grasses. The signs displayed pages from the children's book "In the tall, tall grass" by Denise Fleming.

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