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Blank Park Zoo Monarch Festival

  • 9/12/2017 2:53:00 PM
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A celebration of the monarch’s journey from Canada, through Iowa, to Mexico, will be held Sept. 17, from Noon to 4 p.m., at Blank Park Zoo, in Des Moines.

“Each fall, the iconic monarch butterfly sets it sights on the mountains of Mexico. They travel, en masse, through our state on a journey that can be over 2,000 miles long. We are honored to partner with the Latino Heritage Festival, to highlight the importance of this butterfly to our two countries,” said Jessie Lowry, conservation manager, Blank Park Zoo.

In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship have been looking at ways to help the local monarch population and to improve and expand the refueling areas for monarchs migrating through.

The Iowa DNR will have monarch experts available at the festival.

"We are excited to partner with Blank Park Zoo to bless the monarch butterflies on their long journey to Mexico. According to local legend, the monarchs arriving in Mexico this time of year are believed to be the souls of our ancestors returning home," said Joe Gonzalez, executive director, Latino Resources (oversees Latino Heritage Festival).

This year, a giant “Chinese dragon” style caterpillar will appear in the Festival’s signature BUG PARADE at 2 p.m. 

Monarch Festival Activities:

  • Fourth Annual Children’s BUG PARADE! Come dressed as your favorite insect, wear your wings, your orange and black, antennae or make your costume at the Zoo. There will be special prizes for First and Second place BEST COSTUMES.
  • Polk County Conservation will be leading Insect Hunts and Monarch Tagging. They will demonstrate how to safely catch monarch butterflies to attach a tag. If these special monarchs are found in Mexico, they can help scientists track the migration.
  • Numerous Plant.Grow.Fly. partners will be represented at the Festival offering hands-on activities, demonstrations and crafts for the whole family.
  • Los Ninos del Tepeyac - Danza Folklorica is a dance group dedicated to learning and teaching about the Mexican culture through dance.  This group will be performing at the Festival.
  • Spend time exploring our Butterfly Garden and experience traditional Mexican music by Mariachi Azteca.
  • Families and kids of all ages will be encouraged to take part in an interactive performance workshop called FOLLOW THAT MONARCH! by Carol Taylor's Patchwork Puppets.  
  • There will be a limited supply of free milkweed seeds available provided by Blank Park Zoo and People for Pollinators for festival-goers.
  • The Latino Heritage Festival is Sept 24 and 25 in Des Moines

The Blank Park Zoo Monarch Festival is sponsored and supported by Wit’s End Gardens, Blooming Prairie Nursery, Art Junkie and the Latino Heritage Festival.

For more information contact:

Jessie Lowry, Blank Park Zoo, 515-490-4370,

Ryan Bickel, Blank Park Zoo, 515-988-9485,

Photos and video can be found here: