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August 3, 2019

The University of Tennessee Arboretum Society will present its fourth annual Butterfly Festival on Saturday, August 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the UT Arboretum Auditorium and surrounding grounds, 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge. The charge is $5 per carload. This is a change from previous years. The gate will be open at 9:30 a.m. The event will take place rain or shine.

Co-sponsored by the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, the event which drew hundreds of area participants in 2018, is designed for children and adults of all ages. Ample parking is in designated areas of the UT Arboretum adjacent to the event. The day’s highlight will be the release of 300 butterflies promptly at 12:00 p.m., noon. Please plan enough time for arrival and parking before the release. It is suggested that butterflies be purchased early in the day due to limited supply, on a first come first serve basis. Children are invited to help release the monarch butterflies, which will be offered at a cost of $10 per butterfly to cover costs. Cash or credit cards will be accepted. For the safety of all, the use of butterfly nets at this event is strictly prohibited.

Three speakers will give presentations in the air-conditioned UT Arboretum Auditorium. From 10:00 – 10:45, Stephen Lyn Bales, retired senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center will present, “From Egg to Migration: The Natural History of the Monarch Butterfly.” At 10:45 until 11:15, Dr. Bill Klingeman, professor of Plant Sciences at UT will discuss “Pollinators in Our Landscape.” For children and adults, at 11:15-11:45, Dr. Shirley Raines will present, “Butterfly, You are Free.”

Children of all ages will enjoy experiencing UT Insect Zoo, a travelling exhibit of insects. 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 arachnids (scorpion, tarantula, etc.) found in Tennessee and throughout the world. Two butterfly viewing tents will be open for a closer look at monarchs and other native butterflies.

The festival will feature six local artisans and one native plant vendor, Lori McAllister of Tennessee Naturescapes ( from Clinton. Lori will be bringing a large selection of locally sourced nectar and larval plants for butterflies and other pollinators. While supplies last, McAllister will give away one free pollinator plant (Joe Pye weed) per family with a child. 

Food vendors include Dano’s Hotdogs, featuring hotdogs, hamburgers and lemonade. Mediterranean Delight will offer Middle Eastern fare and LB&S Snowballs will offer over 40 flavors of the refreshing icy treats. Sliders and fries will be offered by Forks on the Road Food Truck. Please bring refillable water bottles. Dulcimer music will be played by UT graduate student Allen McBride. 

Children’s craft activities will be available at a cost of $1 ticket per activity or $5 for six tickets. These include face painting and tattoos, decorating cookies, making picture frames, decorating butterfly magnets and more. To learn more about the Arboretum Society, go to For more information on the program, call 865-483-7277 or