July 30, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
58°F

All creatures great and small

GUILFORD TWP. — It was spitting rain and sometimes snow outside Saturday; but inside, the tarantulas were warm and fuzzy.

The hairy spiders were on display at the 14th annual Medina County Earth Day Celebration at the county park district’s Buffalo Creek Retreat. Earth Day is celebrated nationally on Thursday.

Kids and their parents crowded around the Bugs Unlimited exhibit provided by James Smolka, an entomologist from Hinckley Township. The Brazilian salmon pink birdeater tarantula and the rose-haired tarantula, which hails from Chile, didn’t seem to be
fazed by the chatter, the oohs, and the faces peering into their enclosed habitats.

“I usually feed my tarantulas crickets,” Smolka told a group viewing his display, which also included live scorpions and centipedes, and a mounted collection of insects from around the world.

Ten-year-old twins Joshua and Nathan Stefan from Brunswick hunched down to get a closer look at one the spiders.

It wasn’t their first encounter with a tarantula, they said. They came across one in a blueberry patch. It must have belonged to someone and got loose, they said.

Before coming to Saturday’s celebration and checking out Bugs Unlimited, Anna Longman of Wadsworth and her daughters, Sienna, 4, and Corah, 6, already had put in time at Isham Elementary School picking up garbage with Corah’s Daisy Girl Scout troop.

Besides bugs, visitors to the Buffalo Retreat could celebrate Earth Day by making their own rain barrel, building a bluebird house, flying a kite, learning about conservation from the numerous exhibitors, buying compost made from yard waste at the county’s Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township, or enjoying a show by the Mad Mountain Juggler, also known as John Flower of Aurora.

Why does he call himself the Mad Mountain Juggler?

Wearing a variety of hats, a la the Mad Hatter of “Alice in Wonderland” fame, Flower not only has taken his act around the world, from local events such as the Earth Day celebration in Guilford to the Olympics, he’s taken it to the slopes.

Yes, Flower juggles while downhill skiing.

Contact Liz Sheaffer at (330) 721-4060 or lsheaffer@medina-gazette.com.

About Liz Sheaffer