The Eighth Annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival - Festival de la Monarca - brought together butterfly, music and art enthusiasts from across the region to Lake Nokomis, located at Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park in September. The annual festival celebrates the vividly colored butterfly and its amazing 2,300-mile migration from Minnesota to the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico.
An estimated 8,000 people attended the event, of which approximately 30% to 40% were native Spanish speakers.
Event highlights Minnesota/Mexico connection
The festival emphasized the Minnesota and Mexico connection with Spanish-language music and indigenous Mexican dance performances. Ballet Folklorico—a traditional Mexican dance troupe—kicked off the stage show. The dance group Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue energized the crowd with their vibrant costumes and drumming. They also invited attendees to join them on the dance floor. The band Salsa del Soul brought people to their feet with salsa, meringue and other danceable rhythms.
“The monarch butterfly brings people together from across cultures, and the Monarch Festival reinforces the need to take action to help monarchs survive and thrive,” said Festival Manager MaryLynn Pulscher, staff member of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.
Participants commented on cards about what they liked best about the Festival:
“Food, entertainment, costume parade, community, and helping monarchs”
“Vibrant, happy atmosphere”
“Puppets, dancers, native plants, and mini-donuts”
“Tagging a monarch and letting it go”
Focus on sustainability through education, diversion of waste
The festival took place near the Nokomis Naturescape – four acres of gardens featuring native plants. Plant vendors and gardening experts educated attendees on creating butterfly-friendly habitats. Milkweeds and other native fall-blooming flowers like asters and blazing stars are critical for the monarch population, which is dramatically down.
Volunteers from the BioCyle Team sorted waste from the event. Of the 761 pounds of “waste” generated at the Festival, 57% were organics that were diverted, 21% was recyclable and 22% was truly trash, according to a master recycler/composter who volunteered at the event.
Artists offered many hands-on art-making activities that featured monarch awareness. The day ended with staff gently handing tagged monarch butterflies into the open hands of children so that they could release the butterflies and wish them well on their journey.
The Festival is presented by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Lab. The Festival also receives support from the US Forest Service. See more on the Festival of the Monarch website.