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Mizell's Butterfly and Hummingbird Extravaganza in Folsom, LA

Updated on December 28, 2014
naturegirl7s profile image

Louisiana has many unique sites and interesting places to visit. Yvonne enjoys sharing her knowledge of local history, customs and events.

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.

Extravaganza Events

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

Free parking

Watch hummingbirds being weighed and banded

Monarch on Wild Aster

Source

Hummingbird Gardens

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.

Hummer Joy

Source

That he did, but in 2007 the independent festivals were consolidated into a single day (September 8) advertised as a "Butterfly and Hummingbird Extravaganza." Activities began before sunrise when Linda Beall, a federally authorized master hummingbird bander professionally trained to humanely catch and band hummingbirds for statistical analysis, arrived to set up feeding and trapping stations throughout the gardens. However, most visitors didn't arrive until nine o'clock for the first scheduled event-the dedication of the new "Mizell Farms Butterfly Flight House." I was asked to formerly dedicate the 35 x 48-foot netted enclosure stocked with nectar and host plants as well as approximately 200 live butterflies (the insects had been collected on the grounds the previous day). The flight house proved to be a favorite gathering site for visitors of all ages. As such, I used the venue to speak at length about butterfly biology and identification. Within this living "laboratory," visitors could have a close encounter with butterflies courting, mating, laying eggs, basking, and even securing salts from our perspiration. In addition, caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail, Monarch, Gulf Fritillary and Cloudless Sulphur could be scrutinized as they fed on their hosts. (At the close of the festival, a section of netting was removed, freeing the butterflies.)

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

Source

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.

Hummingbird Banding

Hummingbird researcher, Linda Beall, fixes a band to the left leg of a Ruby-throated hummingbird.
Hummingbird researcher, Linda Beall, fixes a band to the left leg of a Ruby-throated hummingbird.
She uses a straw to blow the feathers aside to reveal the bird's fat content.
She uses a straw to blow the feathers aside to reveal the bird's fat content.
Showing the bird to the waiting public before the release.
Showing the bird to the waiting public before the release.

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)

Source

Gary Noel Ross, Ph.D. is a retired Professor of Biology (Southern University) living in Baton Rouge, LA. For contact: GNR-butterfly-evangelist@juno.com.

Designs by Naturegirl7 on Zazzle

Fun at the Festival

The Gardens

Zinnias and Sunflowers

A hummingbird drinks from red vervain just inches away from on-lookers.
A hummingbird drinks from red vervain just inches away from on-lookers.

Butterflies

Booths and Experts

Folsom Native Plant Booth

The Folsom Native Plant Society displays information and photos and gives wildflower seeds out.
The Folsom Native Plant Society displays information and photos and gives wildflower seeds out.
Al Bordelon and other FNPS members man the booth and answer questions.
Al Bordelon and other FNPS members man the booth and answer questions.

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.


View Google Map for 83211 Highway 25, Folsom, LA

Tell us about your favorite festival.

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    • Mishael A Witty profile image

      Mishael A Witty 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Love the pics!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      We have a hummingbird museum in Colorado, but to my knowledge no festival. Looks like fun! You should join our Redgage Challenge. You would probably win hands down! Great photos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hummingbirds are such nice little birdies. Its neat that there is a festival to celebrated the little hummers.

    • profile image

      foreverme 8 years ago

      Love this lens! But I think I'll wait for cooler weather to visit Folsom.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Back again to this beautiful lens to invite you to add it to my new Festivals lens plexo. Thank you.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Wow... this is the most beautiful SquidZipper lens I've ever seen!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Beautiful gardens and pictures. The festival looks like a lot of fun.

      Great lens

      Lizzy.

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Your photographs are magnificent. I know the festival will be a big success. Beautiful lens. 5*

    • profile image

      roysumit 9 years ago

      Great lens. I also love hummingbirds and butterflies. I liked your composing particularly the pictures. Five stars to you.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 9 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel

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      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      Oh my oh my oh my! I feel like I'm eating a potato chip after reading several of your lenses and popping in here to learn about Mizell's. I love butterflies AND hummingbirds and surely would visit the festival if possible. 5***** and blessings to you my dear.

    • profile image

      ThomasC 9 years ago

      This might be one of the best SquidZips i have seen yet! Great Job, and yes you are blessed by an angel today!

      ThomasC

    • bigjimj profile image

      bigjimj 9 years ago

      Nice lens! Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for joining the Squidoo City Guide.

    • TheInfamous7 profile image

      TheInfamous7 9 years ago

      Beautiful Lens!! If you don't submit this for a Blessing..i Will!! ;-) x x