Revel in the beauty of Spring and celebrate the Earth

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Special to The Leader

ORANGE — Each year in April, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center celebrates Earth Day with an Eco-Fest celebration and Butterfly Release. Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm is a day full of family fun that highlights sustainability and natural history. Local and regional organizations and businesses host booths that provide information about earth-friendly products, services, and opportunities.

Games, activities, and engaging presentations provide entertainment for the whole family. Enjoy the gardens in full bloom and view baby birds in their nests on Ruby Lake. Outpost Tours and strolls through the garden provide relaxing escapes from the hustle and bustle, and the day culminates with an inspirational Butterfly Release at 3:30 pm.

A sampling of activities during the day include: face painting, fun bug run maze, making a wings craft, spoonbill ring toss, bug hop-scotch, hide the bug guessing game, bug and flyswatter relay race, hula-hoop bean bag toss, stained glass butterfly art, and a bug journey scavenger hunt!

A schedule of events taking place throughout Eco-Fest:

Meet Maxine, The Owl  (9:30 am -10:00 am, 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm) – Visit and meet Maxine, the Barred Owl. Maxine is a rehabilitated owl who lost a wing to an injury and now resides at Shangri La Gardens. She visits groups to educate the community on animal adaptations.

Butterfly House (10:00 am – 5:00 pm) – Interact with live insects in the new Butterfly House. Note special pricing below.

Musical Performance (10:00 am – 3:00 pm) – Enjoy the musical stylings from singer and guitarist, Tom Brandow on the Great Lawn Stage.

Raffles (10:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm) – Don’t forget to sign up for the two gift basket raffles and two potted plant raffles. Winners will be announced throughout the day at the Great Lawn Stage. Must be present to win.

Gator Country  (10:30 am – 11:00 am, 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm) – Come see a live alligator and other interesting reptiles from the Gator Country professionals.

Up-Close with Nature  (11:15 am – 11:45 am) – Walk-up visitors will discover which critters are active at Shangri La Gardens during Spring. Stop by and see several live animals and learn about their behavior and habitat.

Outpost Tours (10:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 12:30 pm, 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:00 pm) – A knowledgeable guide leads the Outpost Tour and provides interpretation of Adams Bayou, associated habitats, wildlife, and a brief historical overview of portions of Shangri La Gardens and the local community. The tour takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes. Note special pricing below.

Butterfly Release (3:30 pm) – Visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to participate in the release of hundreds of native butterflies into the gardens at Shangri La Gardens. (Butterflies available to children while supplies last.)

David Rogers’ Big Bugs (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) – View ten larger-than-life creatures that were placed throughout the gardens in their natural habitats. They are handcrafted from found wood and other natural materials.

Pricing: General Admission $8 adults; $5 for students & seniors; Stark Cultural Members free. Outpost Admission $6 adults; $5 for students & seniors.

Butterfly House Admission $6 adults; $5 students & seniors.

Shangri La is located at 2111 W. Park Avenue in Orange, Texas, and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Open Sundays, March 5 – May 28, 2016, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, visit