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Brackenridge Park plans a big party to celebrate its favorite pollinator: the monarch butterfly

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Drake White
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Father and daughter discovering a Monarch butterfly

Next month, the 7th annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival will be held at Brackenridge Park.

Festival founder Monika Maeckle says if you like to eat, you should be concerned about these butterflies.

“Studies show that about one out of every three bites of food is made possible by wildlife pollinators,” she said. “A lot of that is bees, butterflies, bats, birds, beetles — all kinds of insects. But if it wasn't for these free ecosystem work services provided, a lot of our food would not exist or would be way more expensive.”

Maeckle said there are places where pollinators have nearly disappeared.

“In certain parts of the world where climate change and pollution has affected insect populations, literally apple trees and other things have to be pollinated by hand, which, as you can imagine, is way more tedious and can increase the cost of food,” she said.

The festival won't be all fun and games. Some volunteers will also tag individual butterflies so they can be tracked to their roosting grounds in Mexico’s mountains.

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Don Davis
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Monarch butterflies resting during their migration

But Maeckle said the tagging has another equally important function. "To have that interaction — it's just so profoundly changing. It changes people. They will never look at a butterfly the same way,” she said.

“And for children and young people in particular, it just set them on a path of greater appreciation and understanding of what it takes to keep the ecosystem healthy.”

She explains that the festival will have plenty of activities, with about 20 education partners helping. On activity is an obstacle course for kids, similar to the butterfly migration, through the pecan grove near the train depot.

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Scott Ball
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Monarch being realeased

“There’ll be food trucks, the tagging, the obstacle course going, face painting. ... There's plenty to do, and everyone's welcome.”

The festival takes place on Sat., Oct. 8., just east of the Brackenridge train station, and it's free.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii