Festival celebrates the world of bats April 21 at Onondaga Cave State Park

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Photo courtesy batconservation.org

– The fascinating and often misunderstood world of bats will be celebrated April 21 at the Missouri Bat Festival at Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg.

Sponsored by Missouri State Parks and U-Haul, the free festival is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

The festival will feature activities for all age levels and interests, including bat programs, displays and presentations. Kids will enjoy touring an inflatable cave and the many arts-and-crafts projects such as building a bat house. Booths staffed by Master Gardeners and caving organizations will answer questions about bats and how they benefit our lives. Bluegrass music and food will contribute to the festival atmosphere.

The Organization for Bat Conservation, the largest grassroots bat conservation program in the United States, will present numerous programs, including live bat programs. Rob Mies, TV personality and OBC’s director and founder, will bring a variety of bats, including the big brown bats found locally. He also will bring bats from around the world like the straw-colored fruit bats from Africa, and the Malayan flying fox, the largest bat in the world.

A special feature of the festival is the unveiling of the Missouri SuperGraphic by U-Haul as part of its “Venture Across America” campaign. The graphic features Onondaga Cave State Park and the red bat, which makes its home in the woods of the park. The graphic will be featured on 1,900 new moving vans across the country. The U-Haul exhibit will have a limited number of free t-shirts to commemorate the event as well as brochures with information about bats and about Onondaga Cave State Park.

The park’s main feature, Onondaga Cave, is one of the state’s most outstanding caves and is a designated National Natural Landmark. During the festival, the cave will be open for tours at a discounted rate of $10 for adults and $5 for children. The park’s visitor center features displays and exhibits about caves and Onondaga Cave State Park.

In addition to Onondaga Cave and the visitor center, Onondaga Cave State Park features a campground, trails, picnic sites, and access to the Meramec River for fishing and canoeing. The park is located on Highway H off Interstate 44 at the Leasburg (#214) in Crawford County.

For more information about the event, contact the park at 573-245-6576. For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, go to mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.