Monarch release and UT Insect Zoo are highlights

The University of Tennessee Arboretum Society will present a Butterfly Festival on Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UT Arboretum Auditorium and surrounding grounds, 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge.  It is cosponsored by the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. The gate will be open at 8:30 a.m. Coffee and donuts will be sold from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

The event, designed for children and adults of all ages, will take place rain or shine. This educational and fun activity features four speakers, two local native plant vendors and artisans. Speakers will give their presentations in the air-conditioned comfort of the Arboretum’s new Auditorium. The food vendors, plant vendors and artisans will be stationed near the Program Shelter. The monarch butterfly release will take place on the patio outside the Auditorium.

The day’s highlight will be the release of 100 butterflies at approximately 2 p.m., in honor of the 50th anniversaries of UTAS and the Arboretum. We invite children to help release the monarch butterflies, which will be offered at a cost of $10 per butterfly.

The UT Insect Zoo will be a major attraction of the day. Developed to deliver entomological experiences to all ages, the goal of the Insect Zoo is to have fun while sharing knowledge of insects with others to help them appreciate the important role of insects in our environment. The Insect Zoo showcases preserved and live insects and their relatives (scorpion, tarantula, etc.) found in Tennessee and throughout the world. The Insect Zoo is part of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee.

The keynote speaker is award-winning writer, photographer and butterfly expert Rita Venable. Her book, “Butterflies of Tennessee,” is in its second printing.  She will speak twice; at 9:00 a.m., “A Home for Butterflies,” and 1:00 p.m., “Monarchs and Milkweeds of Tennessee.” She will be signing her book from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Ann Brown will discuss “Our Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators” at 10:00 a.m. Local naturalist, photographer, and educator Kris Light will present a talk on “Butterfly Bonanza” at 11:00 a.m. Chris Mahoney will present “Plants for Hummingbirds/Plants for Butterflies – Why Are They Different?” at 12:00 p.m.

Director of the Insect Zoo is Dr. Jerome Grant, Professor of Entomology at UT. He is actively involved in entomological outreach activities, and has taught and conducted research for 30 years.

Native plants vendors are Avi Askey of Overhill Gardens in Vonore and Lori McAlister of Tennessee Naturescapes in Clinton. They will be selling their selections of plants.

Food vendors will include Razzleberry’s who will be selling hotdogs, barbecue and ice cream. Mediterranean Delight will feature Middle Eastern fare.

Artisans will demonstrate their craft and sell their wares.  Thor Eilola, a chain saw artist, will demonstrate his craft.   Kathy Fahey, a UT Arboretum Society board member, will demonstrate how she makes leaf prints out of concrete. Kris Light will be displaying and selling nature-themed jewelry and note cards.

Celebrating 51 years in 2016, this program is one of many lectures and activities that will continue to be offered this year by the UT Arboretum Society. The program is cosponsored by the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center.

The Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, is one of 10 outdoor laboratories located throughout the state as part of the UT AgResearch system. AgResearch is a division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Institute of Agriculture also provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension offices, with locations in every county in the state.

To learn more about the Arboretum Society, go to For more information on the program, call 483-3571.