COLE — Few creatures are as beautiful and heartbreakingly delicate as Monarch butterflies, who tumble through the air on stained glass wings.
Each year, they migrate from Mexico to Canada in a generational relay race, then flutter 3,000 miles back to Mexico to start it all over again.
This time of year, their journey takes them through Oklahoma — which makes the 2012 Monarch Migration and Butterfly Festival in rural McClain County the place to be on Saturday.
Five of the last six years, Ann and Ed Hart, along with several other volunteers, have hosted the butterfly get-together near Washington and Cole.
“We didn't do it last year because of the drought,” Ed Hart said.
“None of our butterflies' plants survived, so we couldn't do it.”
Monarchs rely on certain plants to sustain them throughout their developmental stages. Caterpillars feed on milkweed, Hart said; butterflies eat nectar from flowers.
The butterfly festival is held at the Jerusalem Community Heritage Center and Park near Washington.
The area once was the site of a black community, Hart said, but was largely abandoned during the World War II years.
In recent years, it has been cleaned up. Markers indicate historic sites, such as the original location of a one-room schoolhouse and a graveyard.
Butterfly afficionados have planted flowers there, turning the site into something of a runway for visiting Monarchs.
The Harts and a neighbor also raise Monarchs on their own land.
For the festival, those Monarchs will be on display in a large screen tent. Raffle winners can enter the tent, select a butterfly and release it into the sky.
Other highlights include face-painting, clowns and a butterfly parade, in which children don butterfly costumes and march along a walking trail. One child will be named the Butterfly Queen, and all will have a chance to get their picture taken with a 30-foot replica of a caterpillar. Vendors will sell flowers and hot dogs, among other items.