Pennsylvania Firefly Festival
Imagine sitting around a fading campfire in a dark old-growth forest on a warm June night. When suddenly, you notice a small pulsating yellowish glow floating around you. Soon your eyes adjust to the darkness, and you begin to see more yellow lights dancing as if on a string of Christmas lights strung in the forest. Then the lights go out, and it is pitch dark again. Moments later, there’s a sudden burst of lights, like flashbulbs popping at a sporting event. You’ve just witnessed the annual mating display of the Synchronous Firefly, (Photinus carolinus). Now, you don’t have to just imagine it, you can observe it for yourself.
The Annual Pennsylvania Firefly Festival (PAFF) held at the Black Caddis Ranch in Kellettville (Forest County) is now in its 7th season. This year’s PAFF is June 22 from noon to midnight. Parking is $5 and the proceeds benefit the Am Vets #113. During the day, we have live music, activities for kids of all ages, nature exhibits, arts & craft vendors and food trucks. Among the exhibitors this year, we have Don Salvatore from the Citizen Scientist Project, Firefly Watch; Avalon Owens from Tufts University; Dr. Sarah Lower from Bucknell University; Radim Schreiber, world-renowned Firefly Photographer. We will also feature the United Nations Ambassador of Art, Mr. Ibiyinka Alao. Mr. “Ibi” Alao will be displaying his firefly artwork, and his animated film “My Fireflies” during a special Art After Dark performance. This all leads to the highlight of the evening… FIREFLIES! At 9 pm, we begin to take the registered “Fireflyers” on guided Creek Walks to see Chinese Lanterns until 11 pm, and lead guests to bleacher seating to view Synchronous Fireflies until 12-midnight. All walks/viewings are by reservation only.
We also host multiple firefly viewing events over the month of June into July to spread the growing worldwide enthusiasm for fireflies to various locations throughout Forest County and beyond. Our primary mission is to educate the public about diverse species of fireflies in our area by providing opportunities to witness the “natural light show”. By adding extra nights of viewing and limiting the crowd sizes, we hope to optimize the viewers’ experience while we protect the firefly habitats from overuse.
Here are some of the planned events to mark on your calendars:
- Allegheny National Forest Recreation Area Firefly Excursions, June 7 & 8 at Hearts Content and June 14 & 15 at Loleta ANF Recreation Areas; 9:30 pm – 11 pm
- Firefly Boat Excursion, June 16 at Tionesta Lake Marina, 9 pm -11:30 p
- Locals’ Night, Wednesday, June 19; 9 pm – 11 pm
- Glow & Know Campouts at Minister Creek Campground, June 18 & 26,
- Firefly Photography Workshop with Radim Schreiber, June 20 & 21
- Cook Forest Visitor Center, June 28, 9:30 pm – 11 pm
- Tionesta Campground, at the Outflow Pavilion, June 28 & 29; 9:30 pm - 11 pm
- World Firefly Day, Saturday, July 6, multiple venues/events TBA, Celebrate in your own backyard!
ALL the guided firefly walks/excursions require online registration and space is strictly limited. More events are being developed and will be announced on the website and Facebook. Details and links to the registrations can be found on the website, pafireflyfestival.org or call 814-230-2035 for more information. Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook.com/pafireflyfestival. We hope you will find an evening to enjoy the fireflies in the forest this summer.