Indiana State University Newsroom

8th Annual Bat Festival set for Saturday

September 11, 2014

Saturday has been proclaimed "Indiana Bat Festival Day" by Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, in honor of the eighth annual Indiana Bat Festival this weekend.

Among the points in the mayor's proclamation are this year's theme of "Bats in the City" and the event's emphasis on urban ecology, along with the collaborative effort between sponsors the Indiana State University Center for Bat Research, Outreach and Conservation and the IUPUI Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Previous festivals have been held in Terre Haute, but this year's setting in Indianapolis lends itself to exhibits and presentations highlighting the kinds of bats found in metropolitan areas, why bats are good neighbors to have and how the actions of city dwellers can have an impact on bats and their habitats.

This year, the festival is also part of the White River Festival, a two-week celebration of all things river-related, including water quality.

"Bats are tied to (the need for) healthy streams, because bats eat insects over streams," said Joy O'Keefe, assistant professor of biology and director of the bat center. "Bats are important to healthy waterways, and healthy waterways are important to bats."

An exciting addition to the festival this year is a group of pint-sized bat experts from Muncie, best known for their "What Does the Indiana Bat Say?" video on YouTube.

The third graders from Inspire Academy-A School of Inquiry will perform their song at both the afternoon and evening sessions and answer questions after each performance.

"What they did is called expeditionary learning, where they spent four months just devoted to bats. So, their whole class was just bats, bats, bats, and these kids are basically bat experts," O'Keefe said. "The teachers are happy about (coming), the kids are really stoked, the parents are really excited. Everyone is really excited to be a part of this year's festival."

Bats are facing serious threats these days, including habitat destruction and the devastatingly deadly White Nose Syndrome, so outreach programs like the bat festival help educate and hopefully protect the remaining bat population, O'Keefe said.

"It's important to have this festival, because people fear what they don't understand, and bats are one of those groups of animals that people think of as creepy-crawly and scary. In reality, bats are so important for us, and they're not very scary at all," O'Keefe said.

Daytime events, which run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the campus of IUPUI (325 University Blvd, Indianapolis), include live bat and raptor exhibits, presentations by bat experts, children's activities and the sale of bat merchandise.

The fun continues into the evening, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. at Garfield Park in the Pagoda, located at 2505 Conservatory Dr., Indianapolis. Try your hand at bat field research techniques or kids can play the Batventures course, sponsored by Duke Energy. Then, for the main event, watch and hear bats fly in the park.

The event is co-sponsored by Indiana State's Bat Center and the IUPUI Center for Earth and Environmental Science. For more information, go to


Video: -- "What does the Indiana Bat say?" Third-graders at Inspire Academy-A School of Inquiry perform this song to share what they had learned about the federally endangered Indiana Bat through the first case study of their learning expedition.

Contact: Brianne Walters, assistant director of the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation at Indiana State, 812-237-2808 or

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

Saturday has been proclaimed "Indiana Bat Festival Day" by Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, in honor of the eighth annual Indiana Bat Festival this weekend.

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