Tiny tots dressed as angels and garden fairies danced on the lawn of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) on July 15 as the garden was transformed into a magical land of imagination during the summer festival, Firefly Fling.
“Imagination is really at the center of the Firefly Fling,” Liz Atwell, communications coordinator, said. “We want children to have unstructured play and be able to let their imaginations run and just have fun outdoors.”
Atwell said organizers expected 4,000 people to attend. She said she doesn’t know of any other event like the Firefly Fling, now in its 9th year.
“It’s just a magical night in the Garden. The Garden is a beautiful setting anyway, but they transform it to make it feel magical and enchanting and let kids dress up and run around and have fun,” Atwell said. “It’s just a unique event.”
Children roamed the venue getting their faces painted, blowing giant bubbles, trying out an obstacle course, throwing beach balls, building a fairy house, making an art project and even learning about bees. Garden and woodland fairies granted wishes to children throughout the garden. After dark, the Garden was aglow with fire dancing by Violetta Lotus Fireflies and special glow-in-the-dark performances. The evening ended with fireworks. Three bands, Shaky Bugs, The Firefly Fling Band and momandpop, played music on the main stage throughout the evening.
Families were encouraged to bring blankets and picnic suppers to the event. Food was also offered for sale from food trucks, including Frickin Chicken, The Green Goat, Wicked Woodfire Pizza and Pedal Pops. Advance admission for the event was $11 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 13. At the gate admission was $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 13. Children under three were free.
Sponsors for the evening were Citiscapes Magazine, Generations Bank, Lightworks Events, SLV Productions, Intents Party Rentals, Macaroni Kid – Fayetteville, 3W Magazine, Power 105.7, Nash 94.s and Radio Jon/Deek.
Atwell said each Tuesday evening during the summer the public has the opportunity to experience the BGO for free. Tyson Tuesdays, provided through a grant from Tyson Foods, are events offered free to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. through the end of August. Upcoming events include a garden education (July 18), and two concerts: Leah and the Mojo Doctors on July 25 and Handmade Moments on Aug. 30. The events will conclude on Aug. 29 with an international celebration that will include booths representing different cultures and traditional dance performances from all over the world.
The BGO is a 40-acre community–based non-profit botanical garden located at the border between Fayetteville and Springdale and proceeds from the event supported their mission “to provide education, entertainment and recreation for thousands of visitors and students who visit the Garden each year.”