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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will release tagged monarch butterflies, hold gardening and photography workshops and feature expert speakers on a variety of gardening and pollinator wildlife topics during its annual ButterflyFest Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 24-25).

ButterflyFest is a celebration of all pollinators and encourages visitors to explore their role in our ecosystem through crafts, games and presentations. The festival also includes activities, entertainment, food vendors, workshops and tours for the whole family.

Florida Museum staff will release hundreds of Monarch butterflies both days of the festival. The Florida Museum is participating for the third year in the national Monarch Watch program, which tracks the butterflies’ migration to Mexico with citizen reports using tiny stickers attached to the butterflies’ wings.

The museum will also share how best to attract butterflies to home gardens. Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase native, nectar, host and accent plants. All proceeds benefit the Butterfly Rainforest.

Each workshop is being held at a partner organization with an established butterfly conservation or reintroduction program.

This year’s festival features keynote speaker Thomas Allen, a wildlife research ecologist, author and artist who lives in southwest Florida.

Field trips include a new tour of Paynes Prairie from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday. This hike includes many opportunities to see the prairie’s abundant wildlife, including alligators, amphibians and more than 270 species of birds. Discover the wonders of Gainesville’s wetlands and how they impact the aquifer. Lunch and transportation are not provided.

Festival admission is free, and fees for special activities such as butterfly pinning workshops and butterfly garden design workshops range in price from $25 to $50. Visit for online registration for behind-the-scenes tours and workshops. For more information, visit or call 352-846-2000.

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Writer: Lauren Churchwell
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,