Park district festival celebrates creepy, crawly creatures with a kid-friendly party
by: Jaime Valdez, Four-year-old Devin Miller, left, reacts to a slug held by Abbey Kirsky, also 4. The pair found the creature at Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Nature Park. On Saturday, the park will host its annual Bug Fest.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park will celebrate all things creepy and crawly Saturday with its Sixth Annual Bug Fest.

The event, sponsored by Metro and the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, will feature live bugs, games, displays, crafts, carnivorous plants and guided activities.

Consistently a big draw, last year's Bug Fest attracted 751 adults and children to the 222-acre nature park at 15655 S.W. Millikan Boulevard.

'It's definitely the highlight of the summer,' said Katie Meckes, a park district program coordinator who organized the event. 'I love it.'

Bug Fest is from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Sweeper nets

One of the featured interactive highlights of the day will be the Catch-a-Bug station, a long alley of meadow on park property where young and old alike can try their hand at collecting an array of ladybugs, beetles, ants, grasshoppers crickets and other insects.

'They're basically going to take these sweeper nets and make a couple of swooshes,' Meckes said during a recent demonstration. 'Oh look, I got an ant already.'

On Friday, children were busy at a bug-like camp entitled 'Worms in the Dirt,' trying their luck with the bug nets.

'I found a green ladybug,' said an enthusiastic Sarah Kitten. 'We put it in a little box.'

Kitten, a 6-year-old from Beaverton, said she was having a great time.

After Saturday's bug catch, Bug Fest attendees can ask bug expert Mathew Shepherd from the Xerces Society just what exactly they've caught.

'He'll ID people's bugs from home,' said Meckes. 'Live is good but dead is welcome as well.'

After the catch is complete, the spineless creatures will be set free again.

'We always return them back,' said Meckes. 'We want to try and appreciate bugs and their role in the ecosystem.'

Also, Meckes asks that live bugs from home return there and aren't released into the park.

Saturday's program also includes a Bug Lab, featuring an up close and personal look at ants, their colonies and lifestyles.

Area organizations such as OSU Master Gardeners, the Audubon Society's Bugs of Portland Collection and Metamorphosis Mania will host booths as well.

'There will also be a lady who's bringing her walking stick bug personal collection,' said Meckes.

Back by popular demand will be a giant spider web.

'It's just made out of rope,' said Meckes. 'It's this cool game (children) get to experience.'

That game includes blindfolding a child in the middle of the web as other kids try to walk through.

Meckes said Sam the Carnivorous Plant man will display his collection of plants such as Venus fly traps and pitcher plants.

The back courtyard of Tualatin Hills Nature Park will include a craft area where youngsters can color on an underground ant colony mural as well as make ant masks. Temporary bug tattoos will be available as well.

Meanwhile, the park store will feature many bug-related items such as viewers, stickers and plastic toys.

Helping out with Saturday's event will be 35 and 40 volunteers.

Admission is $1.50 per person and includes all activities.

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