The annual butterfly release is arguably the most popular event each year at Eco-Fest, which is held at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange. The butterfly release is at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, April 23. Eco-Fest is from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Celebrate the environment and have a little fun this weekend in Orange County.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, located at 2111 W. Park Avenue in Orange, is once again the site for Eco-Fest, a day of fun and educational activities while celebrating the environment and enjoying Mother Nature. The event will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, April 23, and all activities are included with regular admission.

According to Noelle Jordan, Environmental Education Coordinator for Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Eco-Fest began in 2008 as a way for the facility to recognize Earth Day and encourage active participations from area residents and Stark Cultural Venues members.

“Eco-Fest is always one of our most popular activities every year, especially when the weather is great,” Jordan said. “It’s educational and fun and there are so many things to see and do that it makes it a great day for the family.”

Arguably the most popular activity each year at Eco-Fest is the butterfly release, which is a delight for both children and adults. Shangri La allows guests, especially children, the opportunity to release butterflies back into the environment and is regularly attended by hundreds of spectators each year.

“This the event people always talk about and want to be a part of,” Jordan added. “It’s so much fun for everyone because you are actually involved.”

The butterfly release is scheduled at 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Supplies are limited and guests are encouraged to arrive early for the release on the Great Lawn.

Vendors will be on site offering information on a variety of products and services, such as honey, handmade soap, garden art made from recycled materials, which are designed to improve the environment or are environmentally-friendly. Also part of Eco-Fest are children’s activities, such as face-painting and games, as well as live animal programs featuring Gator Country and much more.

As an added bonus, guests will be able to enjoy the highly popular exhibit, Dave Roger’s “Big Bugs,” which are still on display at Shangri La through May 28. These 10 larger-than-life insects are made using all natural materials and have been a delight for guests since the exhibit opened in early March.

Call 409-670–9113 or visit www.shangrilagardens.org for more information on this facility and other activities.