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By Collin Breaux | Email: | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Festival of Butterflies in San Juan Capistrano had to be broadcast virtually this year. Even though the fundraising event understandably raised less money, the festival video still raised awareness for gardening and the environment.

“We knew we had to go forward with our message,” said Mary Crawford, chair of the board of directors for Goin’ Native Therapeutic Gardens, which collaborated with Tree of Life Nursery and the San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association on this year’s event.

The Festival of the Butterflies raised $2,800 on the day of the event, plus $16,000 in sponsorships, according to Goin’ Native officials, who acknowledged the total raised was less than in previous years.

The event was broadcast online on Aug. 4 and a revised replay is available on the Goin’ Native website. Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and San Juan Capistrano Mayor Troy Bourne were among those featured in the virtual festival.

Goin’ Native, which helps disabled people and others through gardening activities, started raising money at the end of last year and continued in early 2020 before the festival.

The inaugural Festival of the Butterflies was held in person in August 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to similar plans this year. Marianne Taylor, founder and executive director of Goin’ Native, said the virtual festival was dramatically different because their organization is generally about getting people to feel and experience gardening in person, and usually they have more activities and events leading up to the festival.

Nonetheless, Crawford said this year’s virtual festival demonstrated the importance of nonprofits collaborating.

The broadcast drew in approximately 1,300 viewers, some from as far away as Europe. The virtual festival has increased engagement through emails and phone calls afterward, Taylor said. Crawford noted the video captured the beauty of San Juan.

Still, it’s hoped the days of COVID-19 will pass so the festival can go live again, Taylor said.

“We are not going to be defeated,” Crawford said. “We want to get the message out that the environment is important.”

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