BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
The butterflies are returning for a second year to the Steele County Fair.
“The Butterfly Encounter” was one of the most popular attractions last year, said Wayne Steele, vice president of the Fair Board. Billed as a children’s attraction, it turned out to be equally popular with the adults. “I think it was the flowers as much as the butterflies,” Steele said of the exhibit’s popularity.
The Butterfly Encounter is a screened-in butterfly exhibit with three different species of butterflies, and several hundred actual butterflies. Upon entering the exhibit, visitors can get a nectar-filled feeding stick that will enable them to see the butterflies up close as they come to the feeding stick for the sweet nectar.
The exhibit is more than just feeding butterflies as educational components show the life cycle of the butterfly, why they are important and how they are being threatened by loss of habitat. Visitors can also take as many pictures as they like.
The exhibit is especially timely this year, Steele said, as much attention is being paid to the future of pollinators, which includes butterflies as well as bees.
Butterflies need flowers and that is where the fair volunteers come into the picture.
It is up to the fair to provide flowers for the butterflies in their enclosure. As they did last year, fair volunteers will provide those flowers under the leadership of Michele Warner, superintendent of the Flowers Department.
How did The Butterfly Encounter come to Owatonna?
Steele explained that fair board members visit other county fairs and state fairs and are always on the lookout for new exhibits.
In the case of The Butterfly Encounter, Steele saw an inside exhibit of butterflies and that got him thinking about getting a similar exhibit for Steele County.
Further research led the fair board to The Butterfly Encounter, which is a family owned and operated business from Spring Hill, Fla. Since the exhibit was founded in 2013, the Lurie family has traveled throughout the country entertaining and educating children and adults about the importance of butterflies.
The exhibit gives fair-goers a chance to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly from to adults, butterfly anatomy, what they eat, where they live and even how to fix a butterfly’s broken wing.
“I think it’s for everyone,” said Steele. It’s instructional for kids and adults alike.
The Butterfly Encounter tent will be located by the Auto Museum. It is sponsored by HomeTown Credit Union and Godfather’s Pizza.
The Butterfly Encounter will open at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the first day of the fair. For the remainder of the fair, the exhibit will open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.