Butterfly kites will fill the skies around the McFaddin-Ward House today, as the museum hosts its SOAR Family Day. The free event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include butterfly bikes, a butterfly art garden, crafts, music and a picnic area.

“Butterflies are a representation of renewal and rejuvenation,” Rayanna Hoeft, House education director, said. “And we feel like that’s what we want to do, to come together with our community to celebrate coming out of this dreary, dreary winter.”

House communications and marketing manager Sarah Parker said the house will be decorated specially for the event.

“The outside display is going to be this incredible installation of butterfly kites,” she said. “They will be affixed to the house draped down on a net. We have a butterfly garden that was created by local artists. We sent out these wooden butterflies to local artists and they painted their own incredible works of art. There will be a selfie station. The grounds are so beautiful.”

SOAR visitors will be able to contribute to the garden’s decoration, Hoeft said.

“We’re doing a community art garden, so folks can paint their own little wooden butterfly with acrylics and then we’ll spray them to make them waterproof,” she said. “And we created a huge, framed fence contraption, and folks will hang their butterfly on the fence which will be an installation in our garden.”

Rayanna Hoeft, left, and Sarah Parker sort through butterfly kites in the McFaddin-Ward House Visitor Center in preparation for the SOAR Family Day, March 5. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Visitors will be able to ride butterfly bikes with large wings on them as well as participate in rock painting, making seed balls, beaded caterpillars and face painting. Sophia Bouey is hosting a community art project.

The Andre Harness Quartet will play live jazz from 1 to 3 p.m. For those who don’t want to bring a picnic, the Bread Bus food truck will be on site serving boudin quesadillas.

A variety of other organizations will offer programs during the event. Hoeft said about 30 or 40 years ago, there was a movement that museums should serve as third spaces for their communities and be places of respite and be places of learning and places of community gathering.

“We were we were intentional in bringing in our cultural heritage partners as well as members of other nonprofit organizations,” she said.

Other participants include Beaumont Botanic Gardens, the Beaumont Heritage Society, and the Oaks Historic District.

“Most of these people have some kind of a service connected to this theme of nature and conservation education,” Hoeft said.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is bringing its Bugs on Wheels from the Cockrell Butterfly Center. The Sabine-Neches Chapter of Master Naturalists will host a game for children about the butterfly’s life cycle.

“We are serving as a connector between a group of non-profits in the community,” Hoeft said. “It’s not just what we can do, it’s a little bit more broad than that.”

Hoeft said the event is not only fun, but it is also educational.

“From an ecological perspective, this is a way for us to teach the community how important it is to take care of the butterflies,” she said. “They’re an important part of our ecosystem. So, not only is this a beautiful visual activity and theme that we’re embracing, it’s also a moment to teach, and how we can have a conversation about our environment and be good stewards of the environment.”

Local artists have contributed works for the butterfly garden at the McFaddin-Ward House. The installation is part of SOAR Family Day, March 5. Photo by Andy Coughlan

SOAR kicks off a month of activities at the McFaddin-Ward House, with two “Music at the McFaddin’s” events, with Backporch Friends on March 10 and Night and Day Orchestra on March 30.

Parker said the museum is aiming to be a hub where local groups come to spend time and get enrichment.

“The house has so much to offer, not just its history, but the grounds,” she said.

Hoeft said SOAR is an event where people can come together and enjoy the beauty that’s offered through the McFaddin-Ward gardens, as well as learn new things.

“These events are a great connector for us to the community as well,” she said. “I feel like it creates community partnerships.”

Besides, Hoeft said, “Everything about butterflies is beautiful.”

For more information, visit mcfadin-ward.org.

This story first ran in the March 5, 2023 edition of the Beaumont Enterprise.

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