Friday, September 27, 2013

Bugfest 2013 | Raleigh, NC


Hello, beauties! As you know, the tagline on my blog reads Beauty | Fashion | Lifestyle, and, to be honest, I don't do nearly enough lifestyle posts (or fashion posts, but I'll cover that later). So here's an attempt to rectify things on the lifestyle end.

As there are photos of bugs in the post, I'm going to use the Read More cut for the sake of unsuspecting readers. Also, I have to say that having a blog really empowered me to do things I wouldn't normally do. I set aside my huge fear of most bugs to bring you the best possible post, and it led me to have such a fantastic experience! Here we go!

This past weekend my husband and I headed to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the 13th annual Bugfest. Now, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking. Let me guess. EWW! I totally get it. I felt that way, too. However, Bugfest is the NC Museum of Natural Sciences' biggest event of the year, and it's garnered national recognition as one of the 10 wackiest summer events in the United States on TripAdvisor.

So, around two last Saturday afternoon, my husband, Kyle, and I jumped in the car and drove down to the state's capitol. After finding a nearby free parking lot we joined in the massive crowd at Bugfest. Even the rain didn't keep people from coming out. Our first stop was the cockroach races. Parodied after our state's famous raceway, Rockingham, Roachingham featured lanes for six roaches to race.



While we waited for the next race, the volunteers running the booth allowed everyone to see the cockroaches up close. We could even pet them if we wanted. Normally, I wouldn't be caught dead touching that sort of thing. I mean, HELLO, cockroach! But suddenly I had a strange wave of bravery (I blame the blog!), and gave this one a quick pet. It was surprisingly soft and almost skinlike. This particular species is the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.



After we watched the cockroach race (the blue lane roach won, by the way), we headed over to the honeybee exhibit. As you may know, the global honeybee populations are dwindling more and more everyday. It is reaching crisis proportions! So it was lovely to see what local beekeepers are doing to help.

The volunteers had a handful of newborn honeybees out for us to hold if we wanted. Of course I wanted to! These bees were only a few hours old, so they had yet to properly form their stinger and wings. There was no threat of being stung or having them fly into my face, so that definitely made me feel more comfortable letting one crawl on my hands.


At most of the tents there were bug collections of all sizes and subjects. And it was a lot of fun to really be able to get up close to some absolutely beautiful creatures without having to worry about them skittering off. Plus, as a massive fan of the Animal Crossing video game series, it was especially exciting to see loads of bugs in real life that you capture in the game. My faves were the beetles and the walking leaf!



Even though this festival was all about bugs, there were loads of other types of exhibits there, as well. For instance, there was a huge sand sculpture being created in the middle of all the hubbub. This old cowboy looks sort of freaked out if I do say so myself! Maybe he's afraid of all the bugs! There was also a miniature horse trotting around and giving pulled cart rides to little kids. And, being the huge animal lover I am, of course I had to go over and love on it a bit. It was just too sweet.




Since this was a family event, there was loads of family fun! There were inflatable bounce houses that looked like bug burrows and mushroom castles. The line for them was huge as all the kids wanted a chance to bounce and crawl around. They also had an area for chalk art. The pro art was fantastic and kids had a fun creative outlet. There was even a flea circus. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a show, but how cool is that? I mean, it's a flea circus! That's so classic! It's the one attraction I really wish I'd gotten to see.




The last thing we did before popping inside the museum was to visit the beetle exhibit. This little guy is a darkling beetle. Beetles are one type of bug that has never bothered me, so I was excited to get to hold this one. He loved crawling around and was quite fast, so I had to keep full attention on him! The volunteer at this booth told us that she actually ate bugs, and said that these particular beetles have a bitter taste. TMI? I think so!


Once we'd felt like we had seen all we could see outside, we ran on into the museum. There were loads of bug related pop-up exhibits all around, and more opportunities for me to face my fears by holding even more bugs. I seriously don't think I would have done it without thinking of how it would make a good story for the blog, so thank you to my readers for inspiring me to face my fears!


The first exhibit we saw inside was the scorpions. I don't like bugs, but I especially don't like scorpions and spiders. So when I initially went over, I thought I might just take a picture or two. Once again, that bravery washed over me! The volunteer asked if I wanted to hold one, and I closed my eyes, thrust out my hands, and was like JUST DO IT!

Next thing I knew, I was holding these babes! I have no idea exactly what type they are. My mind was screaming at me the whole time, so I didn't catch their species. If someone knows, let me know and I'll amend the post. Anyway, they just sat there. Didn't move an inch! And the second one turns neon green under a UV light. How cool is that? Nature does some awesome things sometimes!




Our final exhibit of the day featured a couple of your typical creepy crawlies. Here we've got a large grasshopper and a praying mantis, both of which are native here in North Carolina. I've seen a praying mantis of this size, but I've never seen a grasshopper this big around here! I was sort of stunned to learn these are native as I've never been faced with this gigantic bad boy.

The grasshopper was interesting to hold, but he wouldn't sit still for a photo until he was back with his handler. The praying mantis on the other hand was being adorable for the camera! Or, at least as adorable as a praying mantis can be. She crawled all up my hand and arm, and didn't want to let go when the handler wanted her back. Maybe she just wanted to eat my head!



At this point, three of the four floors of the museum were getting ready to close, so Kyle and I decided to head out for dinner. Bugfest was exactly the type of free, wacky fun that makes the weekends so great. I swallowed fears, stepped out of my comfort zone, and ended up having a really amazing experience! It gave me such a rush, and I was really proud of myself for just going for it. I usually like to play it safe.

If you've made it this far, and you've endured all the creepy crawlies, here is a cute, little reward. This little man is Otis! One of the outdoor exhibits was about predators who eat some of the bugs featured, and screech owls are one such predator. Otis is a full grown, five-year-old screech owl with sleepy eyes and a grumpy attitude. But he was still super adorable, and I couldn't help but take a million pictures of him!



After this amazing day, I can't wait for my next adventure! Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later because I'm already starting to feel the itch to get out and do something fun.

Have you attended Bugfest? What is the wackiest festival you've ever gone to?


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