Dancing slugs and butterflies from the StoneLion Puppet Theatre interacted with audience members Saturday at Barton Community College’s Shafer Art Gallery. The gallery and CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions hosted a Family Day full of activities, including the free puppet show and a visit from the Kansas State University Insect Ambassador Zoo.
There were bug-related crafts and activities throughout the day.
Those who attended could also view the gallery’s current exhibit, “Beauty and the Beetle,” featuring sculptures by Gar Waterman and micro-photography by William Guth. The larger representations of beetles allow visitors to see the intricate beauty of the insects, Shafer Art Gallery Director Dave Barnes said.
The exhibit remains open through July 6. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
During the Insect Ambassador program, children looked at live spiders, scorpions and other creepy crawlies, and some of the braver ones accepted the invitation to pet a millipede or a giant cockroach. They also watched a video and looked at insect parts under microscopes.
Children learned about all of the things bugs do in their backyards, and later they could roll a giant “dung ball” around outside and pretend to be dung beetles.
Bugs as food
Maverick Feldt, the grandson of Great Bend attorney Robert Feldt, set up a display of foods made with insects and worms.
“I am working to help the world with hunger by supplying a new source of protein,” Feldt said. He read a study that estimated the world population will be 9 billion by 2050 and at that time there will not be enough livestock to feed everyone. “Insects are sustainable and nutritious,” he said, noting many offer a high protein content for their size.
Feldt said he is a culinary student who plans to attend Kansas State University this fall to focus on entomophagy, the use of insects as human food. His display table featured granola bites made with cricket flour, whole roasted crickets, salsa with agave worms and vodka with bamboo worms. Crickets also flavored seasoned salt and bitters.
When one viewer balked at the idea of eating bugs, Feldt asked him, “Do you want to know what’s in hot dogs?”
A little boy looked at the cricket granola skeptically and asked, “How can we eat this?” Felt answered, “Because it’s been cleaned and it’s been cooked, and there are no bad things in it.”
Feldt said entomophagy is only a hobby for him at this time so he wasn’t there as a bug-edibles entrepreneur. “I’m just helping spread the word.”