By Alyssa Schnugg
In April, the Oxford Garden Club will release more than 850 butterflies into the sky as part of its annual event to celebrate Earth Day.
This year’s event will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on April 20 at the Old Armory Pavilion.
It is free and open to the public.
The OGC came up with the idea for the event in 2019 after the club installed a butterfly garden at the columbarium in the Oxford Memorial Cemetery. To culminate the garden year, the club decided to hold a butterfly release for members only. The event was so popular, the following year the club decided to make it a public event.
“The first year we released 500 butterflies and hosted 400 people,” said Brandall Laughlin with the OCG. “We then decided based on that success, to make it an annual event for the community to enjoy.”
Butterflies can be reserved for $5 prior to the vent. They can be purchased in honor or memory of someone and their names will be read just prior to the release of all the butterflies.
“The day of the event, all pre-sold butterflies are bagged and ready to be released, and we write the purchaser’s name on the bag and they pick their butterflies up at the beginning of the event,” Laughlin said.
The butterflies will be released at about 4 p.m.
“Last year, we released 630 butterflies,” Laughlin said. “This year, around 850 butterflies – 600 will be sold to the public.”
The remaining butterflies will be part of a new activity at this year’s Butterfly Release Day – a butterfly immersion tent, where people can enter an enclosed tent filled with more than 200 live butterflies. People can feed them and allow the butterflies to land on them. At the end of the event, those butterflies will also be released.
There is free vendor space available at the event. Some vendors will be selling plants, food and pottery, some businesses will have tables promoting their businesses, such as hair salons. Local wildlife rehabilitators will bring live owls.
The OGC will be selling T-shirts and people of all ages are welcome to have their photo taken with a hand-painted installation, created by Laughlin and Lynn Wells. The painting has a large set of butterfly wings on one side and the words, “Let Your Dreams Be Your Wings.”
Sponsors for the event include Beau Ridge, Zoe, Blue Willow, Sugar Magnolia, 20/20 Luxe Spa, Chaneys, Good Earth, State Farm/Tom Davis, Jane, Neilson’s, Dermatology Associates of Oxford and one anonymous donor.
To purchase butterflies or T-shirts, people can Venmo cash to @OxfordGarden-Club or visit the OXCM every Tuesday through April 18.