Fourth Annual Butterfly Festival at UT Arboretum Includes Monarch Release

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Education and Fun for the Whole Family

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Monarch butterflies, educational sessions, and a butterfly release will be featured at the 2019 University of Tennessee Arboretum Butterfly Festival. The family-friendly event will be held Saturday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UT Arboretum in Oak Ridge.

Focusing on hands-on and experiential learning, the fourth annual Butterfly Festival offers three educational sessions and two viewing tents containing monarch and painted lady butterflies. The UT Insect Zoo, operated by entomology and plant pathology professor Jerome Grant and UT graduate students, will showcase preserved and live insects found in Tennessee and throughout the world. Both exhibits will be open throughout the day.

Entry to the festival is $5 per car, collected at the front gate of the UT Arboretum, with all proceeds benefiting the UT Arboretum Endowment and ongoing operations.

The event touts many activities designed especially for children, including a kid-focused educational talk on butterflies from Shirley Raines, a preschool teacher and author. Some activities, like face painting, decorating sugar cookies and butterfly magnets, and making a monarch caterpillar bracelet, require an additional ticket. Tickets may be purchased for $1 each or six for $5. 

A limited supply of monarch butterflies may also be purchased by festival guests wishing to participate in the monarch butterfly release. Butterflies are $10 each and guests can purchase their butterflies beginning at 10 a.m. Butterflies will be released promptly at noon, and all festival guests are welcome to witness the event. 

Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase throughout the day from local businesses. The patio of the auditorium will feature beautiful dulcimer music from UT graduate student Allen McBride, and several East Tennessee artisans will have work on display and for sale as well. 

While supplies last, each family will receive one free Joe Pye weed plant from Tennessee Naturescapes, a plant nursery in Clinton. Joe Pye weed is a native plant that attracts butterflies and promotes pollinator health. 

Contact the UT Arboretum for more details or to request accommodation for accessibility by calling 865-483-3571. 

The UT Arboretum is a project of the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. The 250-acre research and educational arboretum is part of a greater 2,204-acre research forest. The arboretum serves as an outdoor classroom to university students in a variety of fields and as a community resource with numerous interpretive nature trails and ecological points of interest. Visitors to the Butterfly Festival may also plan to explore any of the arboretum’s seven miles of self-guided walking tours. 

The UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center and Arboretum is located at 901 S. Illinois Ave. in Oak Ridge. A map can be found online at

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.


Media Contact

Kevin Hoyt

Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center


Michelle Campanis

Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center