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Mizell's Butterfly and Hummingbird Extravaganza in Folsom, LA
Folsom Festival is Fabulous Family Fun
Each September, Mizell Farms welcomes butterfly and hummingbird lovers to their nursery for the annual Butterfly and Hummingbird Festival. Events include speakers, hummingbird banding, visiting the butterfly house, touring the nature trail, plant related activities for the children, a butterfly release, food and several booths operated by local vendors. The festival is a great "one tank" family trip for anyone who lives in the Gulf South.
This wonderful festival was put on hold for the last two years due to illness in the Mizell family. Hopefully it will be on again in the near future.
The village of Folsom is a quiet town, located near the Tchefuncte River in Northwestern St. Tammany Parish. It is the home of Mizell Farms, where the festival is held, as well as many other nurseries and the Folsom Native Plant Society.
The last festival that we attended was in 2008. It was a great success. Hummingbird bander, Linda Beall along with many able assistants, banded 76 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, with males and females being equal at 38 each. The age/sex breakdown was typical for this time of year: 3 adult male, 14 adult female, 35 immature male, and 24 immature female. Even though a drenching thunderstorm, shut the festival down at 2:30 p.m., a good time was had by all.
Before the thunderstorm hundreds of butterflies of many different varieties floated among the colorful blossoms in the lavish gardens.
The festival is usually held on the Saturday after Labor Day.
6:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Festival Events include:
$8.00 admission (12 and older)
Bring the family--something for everyone
Stroll through the Gardens, Butterfly Flight House, and Nature Trails
Listen and speak with the experts
Purchase plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds
Food and drinks will be available for purchase
Watch hummingbirds being weighed and banded
Monarch on Wild Aster
Louisiana Plant Nursery Ideal for Butterfly/Hummingbird Festival - Excerpt from a Newspaper Article by Gary Noel Ross
photo by E. Goodman
Gary Noel Ross in Mizell's Butterfly House
As NABA's Director of Butterfly Festivals since 1998, I have had the privilege of assisting almost a dozen different butterfly festivals in the eastern U.S. Each has been unique. Case in point: MIZELL FARMS BUTTERFLY AND HUMMINGBIRD FESTIVAL. The setting for this event is a wholesale/retail nursery specializing in herbs and the propagation of nectar and host plants preferred by butterflies and hummingbirds whose home is the sultry Gulf Coast.
Mizell Farms, Inc. is a 56-acre, three-generation home site located in rural St. Tammany Parish (County) in southeast Louisiana. For decades, this family owned and operated nursery specialized in evergreen perennials such as azaleas, camellias, boxwoods, hollies, etc. and trees However, as butterfly and hummingbird gardening were becoming increasingly popular in the late 1990s, Jim Mizell, the current owner and manager, realized that there were very few wholesale nurseries growing appropriate herbaceous annuals and perennials for the retail trade. Seeing the opportunity, Jim decided to specialize.
Jim targeted both retail nurseries and popular farmers' markets in nearby New Orleans and Baton Rouge. So successful, the idea of holding a weekend celebration on the grounds of his nursery was soon born. For a trial run, in late September 2001 Jim debuted a "Hummingbird Extravaganza," and the following weekend, a "Butterfly Extravaganza." With attendance each weekend over 2,000, Jim concluded that there was sufficient interest to consider annual events.
The Nature Trail
photo by E. Goodman
Outside, visitors could wander through what Mizell Farms advertises as "the largest butterfly and hummingbird gardens in Louisiana." Propagation houses, herb greenhouses, and yards featuring an assortment of species in various sized containers showcased the nursery's offerings. Adjacent to these commercial areas, the Mizells had installed demonstration landscape plots. Here visitors could view both the growth form of mature butterfly/hummingbird plants as well as how each species might be incorporated into a formal home landscape ranging from simple potted patio accents to sizable installations incorporating swimming pool, water garden, and even guest house. For those visitors wishing to experience a more natural habitat such as a pine/oak woodland characteristic of the region, Jim had constructed "nature trails" to crisscross much of his undeveloped acreage. As a bonus, some of these trails opened into small fields ablaze with multicolored zinnias (seeds had been sown earlier in the summer). Family members, friends, local high school students, and volunteers from Master Gardens and local garden clubs were scattered throughout the nursery to assist visitors. As with most educational festivals, representatives from various nature oriented associations and vendors of nature-based arts and crafts were present, too. And when hunger called, a local chef was kept busy cooking and serving jambalaya-a favorite south Louisiana dish.
The festival was not without indoor programming. For this, the Mizells' guest house was modified into a makeshift auditorium. Throughout the day local specialists addressed such topics as Hummingbird Gardening, Butterfly Gardening, Native Plants, Honey Island Swamp Bird Banding Station, and Digiscoping (digital close-up photography).
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird After Chase
In 2002 I began conducting an official NABA "Fourth of July Butterfly Count" during the festival. The number of individual butterflies has ranged between 198 and 754, and the number of species, between 23 and 26. (In 2007, 634 individuals and 24 species were counted, bringing the cumulative number of species to 37.) Always common are: Giant Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cloudless Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary, Common Buckeye, Monarch, Fiery Skipper, and Ocola Skipper. Other species that frequently show up include: Palamedes Swallowtail, Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange, Pearl Crescent, Variegated Fritillary, Red-spotted Purple, Carolina Satyr, Silver-spotted Skipper, Long-tailed Skipper, and Sachem. However, in 2002-only two days after Tropical Storm Isidore made landfall in south-central Louisiana-two unexpected species showed up: Large Orange Sulphur (1 female) and Great Southern White (2 males, 1 female). Now, whereas the GSW is a resident on Grand Isle (approximately 110 miles directly south of Folsom) and, therefore, could easily have been displaced northward by Isidore's winds, the LOS is not a Louisiana resident. The most likely explanation for its presence in Folsom is that the single individual was blown several hundreds of miles from either southern Florida or southern Texas. (The female GSW was particularly attracted to the nectar of marigolds; in addition, she deposited about a dozen eggs on nursery stock of cleome and nasturtium, recognized hosts.) Not surprisingly, the festival in 2002 was extra exciting!
And those hummingbirds? In 2007, a total of 54 individuals were banded; all were Ruby-throats.
banding photos by E. Goodman
Mizell Farms Annual Butterfly and Hummingbird Festival is scheduled for September 2008. The nursery, however, is open throughout the year. Visit www.mizellfarms.com for details.
Monarch Butterfly on Asters (Wildflowers)
Gary Noel Ross, Ph.D. is a retired Professor of Biology (Southern University) living in Baton Rouge, LA. For contact: GNRfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardening
Designs by Naturegirl7 on Zazzle
Fun at the Festival
Zinnias and Sunflowers
Booths and Experts
Folsom Native Plant Booth
photos by Y.L. Bordelon and E. Goodman
Directions to Mizell's
Metairie to Folsom
Cross the Lake Ponchatrain Causeway. Stay on Highway 190 until it connects to Highway 25. Mizell Farms is located one mile North of Folsom on the left side of the highway.