Mariposa, CA may be a relatively small, rural mountain town, but you’d never know it judging by the size of its annual Butterly Festival. Wow, what an event!
Mariposa is located just north of Oakhurst and west of Bass Lake, less than an hour-and-a-half away from Fresno’s city center. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, en route to Yosemite, Mariposa boasts such great local activities as gold panning, zip lining, wine tasting and shopping. And each May, the town goes all out to attract visitors from all over to enjoy its quaint and rustic charm during its annual Butterfly Festival.
The Butterfly Festival is a three-day event, taking place this year Friday through Sunday, May 5-7. Taking a look at the event schedule, you can see it’s chock full of fun for the entire family.
Friday’s Events are Adult-focused
Friday evening the festival kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with an adults-only Taste of Mariposa night. For just $5, guests can enjoy tasty appetizers and desserts to their heart’s content, or purchase beer, wine, or margaritas from the no-host bar. Both a live and silent auction will take place, and lucky bidders can go home with anything from an overnight stay at the Chukchansi resort to jewelry and even yard equipment. (See a list of auction items here.)
Also taking place on the opening evening of the festival is the annual Hat Competition. Adult participants decorate extravagant, colorful, and completely over-the-top hats, then compete against one another to win “Best Hat” within their chosen category.
The Hat Competition raises funds for the town to purchase butterflies each year, which are raised from caterpillars in Mariposa classrooms during the weeks leading up to the festival. School children study the life cycle of butterflies by observing their in-class butterfly habitats, then the butterflies are set free in a massive release during the festival each year. (This has to be a beautiful sight to see!)
Saturday is a Full Day of Fun for the Family
On Saturday, May 6, those who’d like to get in some exercise can participate in either a competitive 12K race or 5K family fun run beginning at 8 a.m. Registration for the Paseo de Mariposa Run ends May 3; sign-up details can be found here.
From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., the annual Butterfly Parade will make its way down Highway 140, culminating in the butterfly release from the main event area off 5th Street.
There will be a children’s hat contest at 12:30 p.m. The Mariposa Museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. and not only will there be free admission, but also free trolley rides from downtown to the museum.
Throughout the day, patrons can meander amongst the many, many artisan, vendor, and food booths, and shop and eat while they enjoy live music and dance from multiple performers.
Sunday Brings a Kids Rock Hunt & Butterfly Release
The vendor fair will continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, with additional butterfly releases held midday.
Also on Sunday, from noon to 2 p.m., kids can join in on a rock hunt courtesy of Mariposa Rocks. The group will paint cute and colorful rocks, hide the rocks around town, and create clues to their locations on Facebook.
If you don’t have plans next weekend, the Mariposa Butterfly Festival is definitely worth the short drive into the mountains to enjoy. If you go, please be sure to share photos of the amazing hats!