MARIPOSA, Calif. (KFSN) -- With butterflies in hand, young students from Mariposa released butterflies to kick off the Mariposa Butterfly Festival on Friday.
"The town of Mariposa the name is Spanish for 'butterfly.' So when the region was originally founded, there was a huge discovery of monarchs here," Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce CEO Damian Riley said.
Riley says the festival brings locals and tourists together for a unique mountain experience, especially those on their way to Yosemite.
"So when they're driving up, all of a sudden they're seeing the town going crazy. So they stop and they want to take part in it also. It's great walking around, and you see tourists from all over the world," said Riley.
The festival takes over the entire town. On Friday morning, volunteers were busy setting up for the Taste of Mariposa at the county fairgrounds.
"I'm on an adrenaline high right now," Commerce Board Chairperson Karen Cutter said.
Local restaurants, breweries and wineries showcase the fruits of their labor at the festival -- from ribs to ahi nachos.
"It's a good way to be exposed to people that aren't local and are coming into town, so they get to go to one place and taste all that Mariposa has to offer in one spot," said Hanna Wackerman of 1850 Restaurant.
On Saturday, the day kicks off with the colorful butterfly parade. Entertainment will also fill the weekend, from musical acts to fire dancers.
Mana Fire of Mariposa will be performing at the Arts Park Saturday evening and is sure to have a stunning performance.
Officials say this festival brings life to the spring tourism season and has an economic impact.
"The restaurants are full, the stores are busy, and it's just a great opportunity for Mariposa," said Cutter.
Organizers say the festival helps many reconnect with natural beauty.
"No matter where you go in Mariposa, you're going to have a butterfly experience," said Riley.
Nearly 4,000 butterflies will be released this weekend. Organizers say this is the 10th annual Mariposa Butterfly Festival, and it keeps getting bigger every year.
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10th annual butterfly festival takes over Mariposa
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