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  • Get up-close look at butterflies at the fair

    Jackson County Fair exhibit uses 'tasting sticks' to give visitors an up-close look at the flying insects
  • Six-year-old Gianni Cottini dips a Q-tip into a bowl of agave water and carefully holds it up to the feet of a butterfly perched on a flower. After a few moments, the butterfly sidesteps onto his Q-tip, and Gianni holds the butterfly up to his eyes.
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    • If you go
      WHAT: Butterfly Adventures exhibit at the Jackson County Fair, featuring 1,500 painted lady and Monarch butterflies.
      WHERE: The Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point
      WHEN: July ...
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      If you go
      WHAT: Butterfly Adventures exhibit at the Jackson County Fair, featuring 1,500 painted lady and Monarch butterflies.

      WHERE: The Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point

      WHEN: July 15-20, 11 a.m. 11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Sunday

      EXHIBIT FEE: None
  • Six-year-old Gianni Cottini dips a Q-tip into a bowl of agave water and carefully holds it up to the feet of a butterfly perched on a flower. After a few moments, the butterfly sidesteps onto his Q-tip, and Gianni holds the butterfly up to his eyes.
    "This is crazy," he exclaims.
    At Butterfly Adventures, a free exhibit open all day, every day at the Jackson County Fair, visitors can see 1,500 painted lady and Monarch butterflies.
    Before entering the exhibit, fairgoers get a brief set of instructions from owner Peter Noah of Vancouver, Wash.
    "What we have here is a very rare, two-ended butterfly tasting stick," he says, handing over a Q-tip.
    Inside the tent, which is kept humid for the butterflies, visitors can observe the butterflies or, like Gianni, carry one around on their "tasting stick."
    There also is a container of butterflies laying tiny, bright-blue eggs, along with 150 pupae that should hatch later this week.
    Tom and Janet Anders say Butterfly Adventures is the first butterfly exhibit they've ever visited. Despite living in the country where they see plenty of butterflies, they were enthralled by the experience.
    "They're so fascinating up close," Janet says. "They're just beautiful."
    "I didn't know they tasted with their feet, so the exhibit has been very interesting," Tom adds.
    Before opening Butterfly Adventures, Noah ran an aquarium in the Caribbean. When the aquarium was destroyed by a hurricane shortly after opening, the owners decide to open a butterfly exhibit instead, and asked Noah to advise the exhibit.
    Noah traveled across America and Southeast Asia researching exhibits.
    "One thing I found was that at every exhibit, people just walked through. There was no interaction with the butterflies," Noah says.
    "I really like having an interactive environment. Kids and adults both get more out of it."
    When he opened his own traveling butterfly exhibit, Noah used the Q-tips and agave water to provide a way for visitors to safely interact with the butterflies.
    Noah also makes the experience more meaningful by keeping some butterflies in mesh containers, instead of having them all flying free.
    "I want visitors to have one or two butterflies on a stick and really be able to enjoy that, but not have so many around that people get uncomfortable," Noah says. "Having too many land on people can freak them out a bit, especially if they don't like bugs."
    Connor Goins, 3, has no qualms about butterflies landing on him, however. With one on his shoulder and two on his Q-tip, he is all smiles.
    "They're fun, and really fast. They go like this," he says, spinning in a circle and sending the butterflies flying back into the air.
    Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Kelsey Thomas at 541-776-4368 or kthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @kelseyethomas.
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