Water, Wings Wildlife fest returns to RiverQuarium

·4 min read

Sep. 23—ALBANY — The Flint RiverQuarium will once again be the site of the Water, Wings, and Wildlife Festival on Saturday. This year's festival kicks at 9 a.m. with two premier events: the annual Butterfly Breakfast and Discover SCUBA.

Tommy Gregors, the executive director of the Artesian Alliance, said that the festival has been an annual event for more than a decade.

"The Butterfly House has been a favorite attraction since we brought it here seven years ago to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the aquarium," Gregors said. "It gives us an opportunity to showcase these pollinators and allow people to observe them up close as well as feed them. It has become a tradition people look forward to each year".

The Butterfly Breakfast is an event designed especially for children ages 2-5 and their parents. After an adventure with the Butterfly Queen, which includes a light breakfast, the butterfly story, craft, and a song, participants will enjoy an exclusive visit to the mobile butterfly house filled with hundreds of fluttering butterflies, as well as a duck race down the RiverQuarium water steps. Children are encouraged to dress in costume. The Mobile Butterfly House is sponsored by MolsonCoors and Mark's Greenhouse.

Due to COVID safety protocols, tickets are being sold by the table instead of individually in order to allow for groups to social distance. Tables for eight are $135. Flint RiverQuarium and Water, Wings & Wildlife festival admission is included with a Butterfly Breakfast purchase. Members receive a 10% discount. Space is limited and pre-paid advance ticketing is required. Tickets may be purchased online at https://flintriverquarium.regfox.com/butterfly-breakfast-2021.

Discover SCUBA provides participants with the unique opportunity to get their fins wet in the Flint RiverQuarium Blue Hole and gain first-hand experience with everything SCUBA in an introductory class taught by staff from Adventure Dive Center. By the end of the lesson, participants will be swimming with the gentle giants of the RiverQuarium collection, including large striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon.

Participants must be over the age of 12, and those under 18 must have a parent/guardian present. No previous experience with SCUBA diving or equipment is needed. Participants must bring their own bathing suits, towels and change of clothes. All SCUBA diving gear, wet suits and flippers are provided. Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival admission is included with cost of Discover SCUBA lesson. Space is limited, and pre-paid advance ticketing is required. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased online at https://flintriverquarium.regfox.com/discover-scuba-water-wings-and-wildlife-2021.

Members of any of the Artesian Alliance organizations can take advantage of the current SWAPtember promotion using their membership card from the Flint RiverQuarium, Chehaw, or Thronateeska for free admission to the Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival. All three Artesian Alliance organizations have teamed up again to give members a chance to "swap" memberships so they can experience what each attraction has to offer.

Festival admission is included in the cost of regular Flint RiverQuarium admission rates. This year's festival schedule includes a wide variety of activities and presentations. Some may require additional fees.

9 a.m. — Butterfly Breakfast (additional fee)

9 a.m. — Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

10 a.m. — Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival gates open

10 a.m. — Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

10:30 a.m. — Birds of Prey show

11:30 a.m. — Imagination Theater movie: "Alligator Kingdom"

Noon — Native Plants program by Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society

Noon — Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

1:30 p.m. — Birds of Prey show

2 p.m. — Imagination Theater movie: "Alligator Kingdom"

2:30 p.m. — Storytelling performance by Lee County High School students

3 p.m. — Reptile & Amphibian program

3 p.m. — Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

4 p.m. — Butterfly release

Food trucks will be on site and additional presentations and activities will take place in the Flint RiverQuarium Plaza throughout the Festival including:

— 4C Academy: Bird house building

— Albany Parks & Recreation Department: Children's crafts

— Albany State University: Host fish project

— Flint RiverQuarium: Children's crafts

— Georgia DNR: Fire ecology

— Thronateeska Heritage Center: Physics of Flight activities

— Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society

Other groups providing education, demonstration or entertainment projects include:

— Crisp County Extension Office

— Flint Riverkeeper

— Georgia Reptile Society

— Monarchs Across Georgia

— Quail Forever

— SOWEGA Beekeepers

— Albany Audubon Society

The Flint RiverQuarium is located at 101 Pine Ave. in downtown Albany. Regular operating hours are Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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