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20131105 MISSION Butterfly-festival 2922MISSION—Travelers from all over the country visited the National Butterfly Center for the National Butterfly Festival, which ended Tuesday.

Executive Director Marianna T. Wright said the event was a success and the out-of-town butterfly enthusiasts enjoyed their stay in Mission.

“The festival was phenomenal; the weather was great and there was participation from the community,” Wright said. “We hope to do it all over again next year with the same type of success.”

On the last day of the festival, visitors could take a tour of the park with Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, who answered questions from attendees and shared photos from his latest butterfly search in Ecuador.

One festival visitor, Bruce Callahan from Florence, Mass., said he comes to South Texas with a group of 10 people from the Massachusetts Butterfly Club. He added members in their group regularly come down to Mission for the festival.

“We come down because when you get close to the border, a lot of their wildlife crosses over to this area,” Callahan said. “And we get to see that…we are a very active club.”

Callahan added said Massachusetts has a commercial establishment for butterfly watchers, the National Butterfly Center has a variety of butterflies that cannot be seen in his home state.

While some attendees traveled a few hours, others came from overseas, like Julie Whitfield who lives in the state of Victoria in southeast Australia. Whitfield said she applied for a traveling fellowship through the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust-Australia.

The grant is given to Australians who would like to travel overseas to conduct research that will better their country. Whitfield said she works for her state’s government as a butterfly conservationist; she has begun her travels in the U.S. and will end them in the United Kingdom, studying the countries’ habitats for butterflies.

“I’m looking at butterfly conservation programs and community engagement components to those programs, that has been my main focus of this trip,” Whitfield said. “To look at festivals, the number of people and what is bringing them here.”

The Texas Butterfly Festival was one of the main stops for Whitfield, as well as festivals in California and Florida. She added her plans are to implement her findings back home in Australia to keep the endangered species of butterflies in her country alive.

Though the festival is over, the center is still open seven days a week, Wright emphasized. Special events and announcements can be found on the center’s website: www.nationalbutterflycenter.org/. Visitors can tour self-guided park, but staff members are on the grounds for added informational assistance.

For more information on the center, call 583-5400.

Contact Andrielle Figueroa at Andrielle@progresstimes.net.

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