Indiana State University Newsroom



Indiana Bat Festival set for Aug 27

August 4, 2011

The fifth annual Indiana Bat Festival is ready to take place Aug. 27 at Indiana State University and Terre Haute's Dobbs Park.

A wide variety of activities, speakers and live bat demonstrations will be offered, courtesy of the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation.

The free event is hosted by the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation at Indiana State and will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Science Building. The festival will feature an auction, display tables by environmental organizations and presentations by a variety of bat experts including Rob Mies of the Organization for Bat Conservation.

The event will also offer kid-friendly activities such as face painting, an inflatable cave and live demonstrations with local bats and species from around the world.
From 6 to 10 p.m., the festival will continue at Dobbs Park. Activities include guided hikes and the chance to observe bats and listen, with special audio equipment, to their echolocation calls as they navigate and feed. Food, ice cream, and beverages will be available for purchase at the park throughout the evening.

Merchandise will be available for purchase during the event, ranging from T-shirts and jewelry to artwork and books.

Some merchandise features artwork from among last year's art contest submissions. This year's art contest, featuring a top prize of $100 and three age categories, is currently accepting submissions.

John Whitaker, professor of biology at Indiana State and director of the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, described the purpose of the festival as "to educate people about bats. Many people, of course, are afraid of bats and think they're terrible." In reality, "bats are very beneficial to us," he said. Their most helpful characteristics include consuming insects which carry diseases and eat crops.

"They should go away with the idea that bats are very beneficial to us," Whitaker said of people who attend the festival.

Those interested in more information should look into the Bat Center book series, available for purchase at the festival. Each year, the center publishes a book about bats of a particular state. To date the series consists of books featuring bats from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. This year's publication is "Bats of Kansas."

Regardless of the individual's interest level, Whitaker hopes the public will walk away with an educated perspective about the highly stereotyped creature.

"We try to change their impression of bats. Let them realize that they ought to be helping preserve bats," he said.

For more information about the Bat Festival, visit http://www.isubatcenter.org/batfest. Those wanting to know more about the art contest can check out http://www.isubatcenter.org/batfest/artconent.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the Bat Center, its book series, the bat festival, or donating to help fight white-nose syndrome, a mysterious ailment that has killed more than one million bats in the northeastern US and threatens bats in Indiana and surrounding states, can contact Whitaker at John.Whitaker@indstate.edu.

Contact: John Whitaker, director, Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, 812-237-2383 or john.whitaker@indstate.edu

Writer: Bethany Donat, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773