You may want to put the 20th annual Mount Magazine International Butterfly Festival high on your list of things to do this weekend. It’s scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with events at Mount Magazine State Park as well as the Logan County Fairgrounds, located 2.5 miles east of downtown Paris.
At 2,753 feet, Mount Magazine is Arkansas’ highest point and – besides spectacular views of the river valley below – it should also offer summer temperatures several degrees below those scorching ones at lower elevations across the state.
State park events will be held both Friday and Saturday and will include Pollinator Bingo and educational sessions. Activities at the fairgrounds in Paris are set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday only and will include live entertainment, craft and food vendors, kid zone activities, a petting zoo and a live butterfly observatory.
The Butterfly Miss Pageant will be held on Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Paris Middle School Auditorium. Colleen Nick, with the Morgan Nick Foundation, will kick off the opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with the release of the butterflies in the live butterfly observatory.
The festival, one of the most popular nature-related family events in Arkansas, helps attendees and enthusiasts understand and appreciate butterflies and other pollinators, a number of which can be found in their natural habitat at Mount Magazine State Park.
Pollinating animals contribute to one out of every three bites of food we eat. As part of this year’s Butterfly Festival, the Skycrest Restaurant in the lodge at the state park is hosting a special “bounty of bees” buffet both days showcasing all that pollinators do. The buffet will feature foods that are produced indirectly or directly with the help of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, flies and even the wind. Visitors can look at the label of each dish and see what pollinates it. Price for the buffet, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is $14.95 for adults, $6.95 for children ages 5-11 and free for children under 5.
At 2 p.m. Friday on Mount Magazine, Theo Witsell, botanist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, is scheduled to explain about the importance of milkweed, host plant of monarch butterfly caterpillars, and how the state is home to more than 15 different kinds of milkweed.
A free closing folk concert is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in the banquet hall at the lodge, featuring Kelly and Donna Mulhollan, aka Still on the Hill.
For more information, contact the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce at 479-963-2244 or Mount Magazine State Park at 479-963-8502. Also, check out the festival’s Facebook page.