A conservative estimate of 1.400 people visited the Insect Festival at York on Sunday 3 July, enjoying a glorious summer's day in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens and Hospitium.
This year there was more focus on the exhibits and activities, with marquees hired for a more substantial outdoor activities area. There was a continuous stream of visiting children (and adults) wishing to take part in face painting, insect model-making and insect hotel design.
Under the experienced guidance of Drs Roger Key, Rosie Key, Peter Mayhew and Peter Smithers, the minibeast hunts were hugely popular, averaging 35 participants every 45 minutes. Children and adults arrived with improvised sweep nets and other collection equipment made at the OPAL stand.
'Buzzing Borders' generated much interest in attracting beneficial insects to the garden, where visitors were given the chance to take part in a live garden survey.
The NIW display of winning photographs from the 2010 competition had its own marquee, allowing visitors to browse the stunning collection at a more leisurely pace.
The marquee also displayed winning drawings from the Schools Art competition (plus access to folders of all the 400+ entries) and doubled up as the stage for the prize-giving ceremony by the RES President.
SCHOOL ART COMPETITION RESULTS
1ST - BETHANY ISSATT, 5 YEARS, CLIFFE VC PRIMARY SCHOOL, DRAGONFLY
2ND - RYAN PATTISON, 5 YEARS, HOLY TRINITY CE INFANT SCHOOL, GRASSHOPPER
3RD - TIA CARTER, 5 YEARS, KIRK SANDALL INFANT SCHOOL, BUTTERFLY
1ST - DAISY HEMMING, 7 YEARS, BURNT YATES PRIMARY, HONEYBEE
2ND - ELLIE MILLINGTON, 6 YEARS, CLIFFE VC PRIMARY SCHHOL, DRAGONFLY
3RD - GRACE KERR, 6 YEARS, ELVINGTON PRIMARY, BUTTERFLY
1ST - LUCY JONES, 9 YEARS, WARMSWORTH PRIMARY SCHOOL, BUTTERFLY
2ND - LEVI, 9 YEARS, PARK PRIMARY SCHOOL, DRAGONFLY & BUTTERFLY
3RD - JAMES OXFORD, 8 YEARS, ST MARTINS CE VA PRIMARY FANGFOSS, ANT
1ST/OVERALL - ALEX FEATHER, 10 YEARS, KILDWICK CE PRIMARY SCHOOL, STAG BEETLES
2ND - MYLES WILKINSON, 10 YEARS, LINTON-ON-OUSE PRIMARY SCHOOL, WASP
3RD - MANUEL ALMANSA, 11 YEARS, ST MARTINS AMPLEFORTH, BUTTERFLY
In the Hospitium were 27 exhibits, spread over 2 floors. These ranged from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and BENHS to exhibits from the Manchester University Museum and Yorkshire Museum entomology collections.
We had previous exhibitors returning, such as the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Trust and the Yorkshire Naturalist's Union but also a good representation of research organisations such as FERA and Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright. The latter exhibit formed part of our theme this year, CSI (Crime Scene Insects), along with Derby University's Forensic entomology section.
Other new exhibits included the Riverfly Partnership, fossil insects, a natural history artist and 'Creepy Crawlie Cupcakes'.
Support from the RES President, Stuart Reynolds and other RES Officers Lin Field, Jim Hardie and Hugh Loxdale was much appreciated and their hands-on approach was certainly in the spirit of this activity-oriented event! As usual the RES HQ staff were outstanding, both in the preparation for the festival, but in running things on the day.
We had an army of cheerful volunteers, working in the grounds and inside the Hospitium, taking turns at face painting and leafleting at strategic points in York itself.
It was noticeable that the event was extremely well attended throughout the day - in 2009 there was a peak around midday but numbers dropped off markedly around 3pm. IF11 was busy throughout the day, right up to closing.
Feedback on this year's event has been overwhelming. Praise for its smooth running has been a repeated theme and is due partly to the IF team knowing what to expect and having a system in place from 2009 that worked well.
On behalf of the IF11 team, we would like to thank all supporters, helpers, exhibitors and visitors in making this event the success it most definately is.
One final note: a parent told us that after attending IF09 his child had kept a poster and put it up on his bedroom wall. Apparently, he could not wait for the next one, regularly checking the IF page on the RES website for updates. When the IF page eventually went live, he shouted 'It's here!! The Insect Festival is here!!'.