The Insect Festival Working Group was formed to share information about best practices and develop a common evaluation scheme.
Over the last 30 years, multiple museums and Entomology departments have begun offering Insect Festivals in the United States. Eighty-one active insect festivals have been identified (Hvenegaard 2016), with attendees ranging from 100,000 to 200 members of the public. What is the outcome of this huge amount of effort and time? There is limited research available so far, other than generally counting festivals and visitors.
The purpose of the working group is to coordinate a research project. We want to know more about what motivates visitors to attend, the demographic makeup of our audience, and if we actually change any knowledge or behavior in visitors. Ideally, we would like to identify a core set of evaluation questions that can allow us to compare across venues to see what is similar, what is different, and to try to identify best practices.
Our consortium also would like to survey our volunteers, to see if we can identify best practices in training and event day volunteer support. Volunteers are critical to the functioning of insect festivals, but so far we’ve found no insect festival research on what volunteers learn, or how best to prepare them. Because there is a strong element of fear and loathing in public attitudes towards insects, we think that our volunteers may need extra training, or have unique experiences.
Have you regularly evaluated your festival? Are you interested in contributing to a shared evaluation instrument with common questions?
We would love to have info about your exhibits, and would like to develop some best practices for training volunteers, animal handling, and safety issues.
We had to scramble to keep connected in 2020 — what lessons did we learn? What worked and what didn’t work?