Hokie BugFest celebrates the fun and excitement of the science of entomology, and the Virginia Tech tradition of learning and discovery, through outreach and engagement. This event highlights an ongoing youth education program hosted by the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology, Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H program, and the department's student-run professional organization, the W. B. Alwood Entomological Society. Since its inception in 1966, Alwood Society members have engaged over 30,000 children by hosting department tours, visiting schools, and supporting special events like the Hokie BugFest. The bugfest is just one day in this ongoing, year-round effort. 

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes an active, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 215 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 30,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $450 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Last year we welcomed over 8,400 people to the seventh annual Hokie BugFest. What inspired these people to spend part of a beautiful Saturday at an indoor event? Maybe it was Tony Gustin the Bug Whisperer and his educational super show. Or perhaps it was the Alberti Flea Circus? Maybe it was the Wizards of Entomology or Brandon the Balloon Guy and his bug-shaped balloon sculptures. Or maybe it was the live arthropods on display in the Bug Zoo – some hailing from around the globe and some found down the street. Well these attractions and more return this year. Come one, come all, to the eighth annual Hokie BugFest!

Hokie BugFest has relocated for 2018.  As always, this FREE event is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  It will be held at the Virginia Tech Squires Student Center and College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg. The move was taken to save money and to give us more flexibility in space and function. By working with Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. and the town of Blacksburg, we are seeking to enhance our offerings. The event is scheduled during Virginia Tech's fall break to further enhance parking and event access. See you on October 20th. Details can be found on the event Facebook (#hokiebugfest) page and at the hokiebugfest.org website.

Virginia Tech Squires Student Center

  • 9:00 am - Pre-opening for families with children with autism
  • 10:00 am to 5:00 pm - open to the public (FREE)
  • Details are listed under Exhibits & Performances below.

College Avenue

-- closed to traffic from dawn (7:08 am) to dusk (7:05 pm) for event access

  • 9:00 am - Children's Story Hour -- Lyric Theatre
  • 11:00 am - Kids in Bug Costumes -- College Avenue
  • 1:00 pm - Pets in Bug Costumes -- College Avenue
  • 3:00 pm - Human Dung Beetle Races -- College Avenue
  • 4:00 pm - movie (free)- "Microcosmos" (Rated G) -- Lyric Theatre
  • Tent Exhibitors
  • College Avenue Merchants
  • Local Restaurants and Food Vendors
  • Service Organizations
HBF18 - SQmap2.png.pdf download diagram of Squires Events

2018 Schedule - Squires Student Center & Downtown Blacksburg

Hokie BugFest opens to the general public at 10:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm again this year. Activities on College Avenue may continue to dusk. 

In working with the Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research), the Hokie BugFest is designated a S.A.F.E. (Support Autism Friendly Environments) event. As in the past, we will open at 9:00 am with several sensory friendly activities for children with autism and their families. Those activities will continue to be available throughout the day. Along with those activities, Hokie BugFest will again host several quiet rooms for all parents and children. There are also many areas to relax and unwind in Squires.

Stage (Performances/Contests) Schedule - 2018 Hokie BugFest

  • Alberti Flea Circus - Winston Salem, NC
  • Bug Eating Contest - hosted by Virginia Tech Dept. of Entomology
  • 4-H Insect Collection Competition Awards - hosted by Virginia 4-H & Virginia Tech Department of Entomology
  • Tony Gustin - the Bug Whisperer - Milwaukee, WI
  • Wizards of Entomology - Blacksburg & Glen Allen, VA
  • TIME

    STAGE 1

    STAGE 2


    Bug Bingo

    Storytelling - "The Collectors"


    Bug Bingo





    Bug Bingo




    Bug Eating Contest





    Waggle Dance Contest





    Waggle Dance Contest

    4-H Insect Collections


    Waggle Dance Contest






    Bug Bingo



    Bug Bingo



    Bug Bingo

    Storytelling - "the Collectors"



ZOO AREA - (Live Bugs) - Virginia Tech Entomology


  • College BUG Drawing Class (10:30, 11:30 am, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 pm) - Jane Blevins College Art, Blacksburg - an opportunity for participants to create their own "college art" (Hokie) bug drawing. A sort of "bug university" art class.
  • BugArt Studio - Creativity Center for All Ages -- VT Entomology

FOYER (plus rails on second floor above the main entry area)

Insect Sculptures and Balloon Art -- Brandon the Balloon Guy - Balloon Artist Extraordinaire - Sugary Cereal Connoisseur - Comedy Magician



  • Pollination Station - Learn about Bees with our Pollinator Scientists


  • Live Butterflies -- Kelly Worrell - Carroll County, Virginia


  • Live spiders of all kinds in a spooky environment (but not that spooky) - for all ages - VT Entomology


  • Family Break Room - (*Reading Room - 9:00-10:00 am for Children with Autism - Children's Entomology Book Fundraiser - "The Collectors" a special book written for HBF by Kellie Worrell -  VT Entomology/Virginia 4-H (books sold for $10 donation in the Latham Foyer)

BUG JEOPARDY -- second floor foyer

  • Bug Jeopardy - come play the "GAME" & win prizes -- VT Entomology


Security Provided by the Virginia Tech Police Department


From I-81: Take Exit 118B towards Blacksburg/460 West. Exit the 460 Bypass at the Prices Fork Rd/Downtown exit, Route 412 East. Follow 412 to North Main Street and turn right towards downtown. Turn right onto the Alumni Mall to access Squires Student Center north entrance and associated parking on the Drillfield and the mall. If you proceed past the Alumni Mall entrancel into town there is parking downtown in several parking areas.

Parking & Public Transportation:

Parking nearest the event is located off of Roanoke and Otey Street to your right. There are over 300 parking spaces in the Media Lot and the Squires Parking Lot as seen on the map above. There is also parking in surrounding Squires Student Center and around the Virginia Tech Drillfield. Parking is open to the public (free) on weekends. There are two parking garages near the site. Both are within walking distance but not immediately adjacent to the site. The garages charge for parking. Zoom out on the Google map above to see thest locations.  Additional parking details are linked below:

October is one of the nicest months to visit the New River Valley. Weekends in Blacksburg are fun but very busy, even when there isn't a home football game at Virginia Tech. Lodging can be limited and expensive at times. We have chosen the fall break weekend for Virginia Tech students. This will likely reduce competition for parking and access to campus on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Onsite Food at Hokie BugFest

We are working with Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. to encourage downtown restaurants to offer themed meals and specials. We will keep you posted on this. Squires will host the event. It is just a short walk out the front door of Squires to access several nearby restaurants. Food prices should be more flexible than in the past.

College Avenue Eateries

Beating the Crowds at Hokie BugFest

Hate crowds? Who doesn't! Last year we welcomed an audience exceeding 8,400 in attendance. For most attractions we were able to eliminate the line problem we experienced in prior years. In 2017 we pretty much eliminated or reduced lines altogether. This was done by eliminating activities that produced lines in prior years (Haunted House, Luminous Cave, Face Painting, etc.) Our most popular attraction, the Bug Zoo, produced huge lines several years ago. For the past four years we broke the zoo into multiple sites and the lines were pretty much calmed. In terms of sheer mass of people at the event, our lightest period of time is in the afternoon. Late afternoon until closing at 5:00 pm is ideal. Our activities remain the same throughout the day, so coming during the hours of less attendance will not affect what you see. You just might see more during the less crowded hours. With the move to Squires and downtown we expect the event to be more spread out, thus accommodating larger crowds. See you at the event and thank you for attending.

Area information, including other lodging, restaurants, and attractions. Come and enjoy!

Entomology - A Virginia Tech Legacy

Support Virginia Tech & the Hokie BugFest

The Hokie BugFest is made possible through the generosity of donors like you. Your kindness has allowed us to keep this a free event for the public. Each year we are in great need of monetary and in-kind support to organize and run the event. You might not know this, but our group hosts small exhibits, camps, and tours for school children and others throughout the year. At those opportunities, we promote the event and test new learning experiences that we include in the annual Hokie BugFest.

If you would like to support the Hokie BugFest you can do so in the following manner. Donations are tax-deductible and are greatly appreciated. Those who donate within four weeks of the annual event will have their names included in our banners, online, and other advertisements. As soon as we know of the donation, we will add your name to our sponsor list.

Sponsor Levels & Types

  • Platinum: $3,000 and above
  • Gold: $2,000 to $2,999
  • Silver: $1,000 to $1,999
  • Bronze: $500 to $999
  • Copper: $499 and under

All sponsors, partners, and donors will be acknowledged on this website. Major sponsors and donors will also be included in posters and other advertisements as space permits. Last year sponsor names were projected on the wall of the event ballroom. Sponsor types include:

  • Corporate: Donors of in-kind and monetary support. Last year we received both types of donations. Although in-kind donations are greatly appreciated, they are difficult to put a dollar value on. We ask donors to let us know the value of in-kind gifts.
  • Promotional: We received tremendous support last year from several very important promotional sponsors. We hope to sustain long-term relationships with these sponsors because their support is critical to publicizing the event. We ask promotional sponsors to help us determine the value of their support so that we can rank the sponsor level accordingly.
  • Exhibitor: Space is available to any sponsor or donor who has an exhibit that is appropriate and applicable to the Hokie BugFest. Signage and minimal advertising are allowed, but we do ask that exhibits provide a learning environment associated with entomology and science. Last year we asked several groups to provide exhibits as a service to the event. Recognizing the time and effort needed to put up and staff an exhibit, we did not request a donation. But some of those groups also donated funds and in-kind items. In those cases, we valued the exhibitors' time, efforts, and donations to rank their sponsor level in our promotions. We seek a minimum of a $500 donation (monetary or in-kind) for those seeking to host an exhibit. Non-profits, schools, universities, museums, and similar groups are excluded from this requirement.
  • Individuals: We welcome your generosity if you can support us in any way. We need volunteers and partners who can donate their time and help with the event. We need cash donations to pay for facilities and other obligations. We also need art supplies and activity items for all ages. We will try again this year to pair individuals and groups with a single exhibit or lab activity.

Giving Online

To donate online, please go directly to the GIVING TO VIRGINIA TECH ONLINE website. On the online form, please make sure, under "Gift Amount and Designation," to enter the amount of your donation and to click on the "enter your own" fund designation. A line will open for you to type in the following: "Alwood Legacy Fund 875250". This is critical to designate your donation for the Hokie BugFest.

Giving by Check

To donate in the form of a check, please write your check to "Virginia Tech Foundation." In the memo line, please write "Alwood Legacy Fund 875250". This will designate the donation for the event fund. Please send your check to: Dr. Michael J. Weaver, Professor, Department of Entomology (0409), Virginia Tech, 302 Agnew Hall, 460 West Campus Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061 -- Contact information: (540) 231-6543 - mweaver@vt.edu

Giving at the Event

If you plan to donate at the Hokie BugFest, you may donate in the form of a check (as described above) or in cash at the registration table in the lobby of the event on October 20th.


Did you know that you can make a pledge that will allow you to spread your donation in smaller payments over multiple years (up to five)? For most people, this is the way to give - it enables you to make a significant donation without a major impact on your budget. For more information on how to pledge, please contact: Brian Plum, Assistant Director of Development for Leadership Gifts, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 132 Smyth Hall (0402), 185 Ag Quad Lane, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 -- Contact information: (540) 231-0391 - bplum@vt.edu

Each year the Hokie BugFest welcomes an army of volunteers including our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends. Volunteers who work more than two hours at the event are provided an event t-shirt, a special event nametag, and lunch. We maintain quite a bit of security on who we allow to volunteer, especially if they are in contact with children. All of our department volunteers complete a background check prior to volunteering. We also require others to complete Virginia 4-H volunteer forms and comply with their rules. Forms and volunteer standards can be found below:

For those seeking to volunteer, please contact:
Rachel Parson
Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs
302 Agnew Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-6543