Toddler with a millipede. Albemarle County, VA

Who doesn't love a millipede?

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. 

The ninth annual Hokie BugFest is scheduled for fall break weekend of October 5, 2019 from 10 am to 5 pm (general public). A pre-opening is again being hosted for adults and children with disabilities starting at 9 am. Those individuals will be issued a pass to be in Squires early. You should check in at the event table to seek this access.

Overall the priorities for this year's event will continue as in the past. They include: 

  • FREE admission
  • Family-oriented environment
  • Collaboration with the town of Blacksburg, and a
  • S.A.F.E. (Supporting Autism Friendly Environments) event


HBFbrochure18_final.pdf This is the booklet being handed out at the door of the event to the public.


We need your help. Hokie BugFest is part of the upcoming Virginia Tech Giving Day. On March 19 Giving Day begins. Please consider giving to Hokie BugFest by matching the challenges we will be under to build support for this year's Hokie BugFest. Donations go to the Entomology Annual Fund - - those proceeds will support Hokie BugFest 2019. Last year's campaign raised over $5,000 for Hokie BugFest 2018.


Our plan is to host Hokie BugFest 2019 at Squires Student Center (Commonwealth Ballroom) on Saturday, October 5.


Hokie BugFest is over for the year. We had an estimated 8,500 attend and it was a huge challenge for us. The change in venue produced some really positive results. Enough to allow us to continue at this site next year. Overall the event was a huge success. Like the first year we had the event at the old site, we learned a great deal as to how to improve it next year. We were greatly disappointed in the lines produced by the smaller rooms, especially the Spider's Lair. Our apology for this. The Lair always has lines -- anything that popular will have people waiting to get in. But people waited far too long because we put too many spiders in the room and the location. People were incredibily patient as always - thank you for this. The use of the Lyric produced some wonderful results although some people didn't like the event spread out on College Avenue. It would have been more obvious had we been able to fill the street with vendors that we are growing the event. This will not change next year. It only has room to grow and improve. We succeeded in offering families more and less expensive food choices, additional activities, and a more relaxed environment in Squires and the Lyric. We had many, many complements for doing so. What we lacked was a larger main area. That was because of renovation of the Commonwealth Ballroom. Next year this area will be our main exhibit area. The changes there will offer us a stage and a larger area to put our exhibits, including getting out of some of the smaller rooms and the third floor. So thank you for attending this year, hang with us as we improve this location next year and we will see you in October 2019. Again we will try to schedule on Fall Break weekend to avoid parking issues with school in session. Unfortunately, we don't know the exact date due to university policy to not set dates until March 2019. As soon as we know you will know. Again, thank you for 2018.

(see Exhibits and Performances, below, for more details)

Virginia Tech Squires Student Center

  • 9:00 am - pre-opening - S.A.F.E. environment for families with children with autism
  • 10:00 am to 5:00 pm - open to the public (FREE)

College Avenue

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

The layout of Squires Student Center - Hokie BugFest 2019.

The layout of Squires Student Center - Hokie BugFest 2019.
SQUIRES_HBF19 2.pdf Layout of Squires Student Center - Hokie BugFest - Oct. 5, 2019
College Avenue Vendors

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. In addition to our already established S.A.F.E. hour we are offering a 9:00 am pre-opening at the Lyric Theatre for families with children with special needs.

LYRIC THEATRE (College Avenue)

  • 9:00 am - Build a Bug - for families of children with special needs
  • 10:00 amStorytime with Joelle
  • 11:10 am - 4-H Bug Costume Contest - adult & youth entries report to theater by 10:45 am - crowning of King & Queen of Hokie BugFest. Parade following on College Avenue.
  • 12:00 pm - Brandon the Balloon Guy & Company
  • 1:00 pm - Storytime with Joelle
    2:00 pm - Brandon the Balloon Guy & Company
  • 3:00 pm - Brandon the Balloon Guy & Company
  • 4:00 pm - Movie: MicroCosmos (Rated G) -- FREE Admission


  • Brandon the Balloon Guy - Wytheville, VA - Insect Sculptures and Balloon Art -- - Balloon Artist Extraordinaire - Sugary Cereal Connoisseur - Comedy Magician
  • Joelle Shank - Story Time with Joelle - Blacksburg


  • 11:45 am - 4-H Bug Costume Parade
  •  3:00 pm - Humans "Dressed" as Dung Beetles Race -- Racers must be 10 years or older. Register as a team or individual by 2:45 pm at registration tent (#10 on College Ave. map above).
  • 11:00 am to 4 pm - Face Painting by Artistic Innovations – In front of the Lyric Theatre
  • Until 5 pm
    • Bug-Inspired Art Supplies & Activities; Fine Art; Raffle - Mish Mish
    • HBF Souvenirs - Event T-Shirt, Buttons, Etc; Fundraiser - Alwood Society - VT Entomology
    • Kettle Corn, Food & Drinks - Hethwood Market
    • Thai Food – Cafe de Bangkok
    • Barbeque – Bootleg BBQ
    • Clothing - Southern Harts Boutique
    • Steppin’ Out T-shirts – Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.
    • Dogs & Cats - Montgomery County Animal Care & Adoption Center



  • The Schiele - Museum of Natural History - Gastonia, NC
  • Macaroni Kid of the NRV
  • Virginia Tech Pesticide Safety Education - Larry the Label - VT Entomology
  • “Bugs Suck – The Biomechanics of Insect Feeding” -- Socha Lab -- VT Biomedical Engineering & Mechanics
  • Marek Lab - Virginia Tech Insect Collection - VT Entomology
  • Science Festival – Virginia Tech
  • Salom Forest Entomology Lab - VT Entomology
  • Gypsy Moth - Slow the Spread Project - VT Entomology
  • Virginia Museum of Natural History – Martinsville
  • Superior Exterminating – Roanoke
  • Virginia Pest Management Association – Fredericksburg
  • Making your Smartphone into a Microscope - Biology Department - Radford University
  • Pests of Companion Animals – Ticks in the NRVZajac Lab - VA/MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA
  • Insect Pathology - Novozymes, Salem
  • Roachzilla! - Davis Ecophysiology Group - Biology Department - Radford University
  • Forensics & Insects in Crime Solving - VT Police Department
  • Office of Pesticide Services - VA Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services – Richmond
  • Office of Plant Industry Services - VA Dept. Agriculture & Consumer Services -Richmond
  • Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, Roanoke
  • Opell Lab - Spider Orb Webs - VT Biological Sciences & Fralin Life Science Institute
  • Syngenta US - Agribusiness – Greensboro, NC
  • Paulson Medical Entomology Lab & Sharakov Mosquito Genetics Lab- VT Entomology
  • Virginia Master Naturalists - Charlottesville, VA
  • Virginia Master Gardeners -- Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Insect Identification Laboratory - VT Entomology


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


  • Earn a Junior Entomologist's Certificate - VT Entomology (Hallway near South Entrance)
  • Picture Yourself As A Bug – Photo Booth -- VT Entomology (Hallway)
  • Children's Entomology Book Fundraiser - a special book written just for HBF by Kellie Worrell. Books available for a $10 donation -- VT Entomology/Virginia 4-H (near butterfly tents)
  • Bug Vision - See What A Bug Sees - VT Entomology (Hallway). 


NORTH ENTRY HALLWAY (S.A.F.E. area for children with autism at 9:00 am)

Bug Zoo (live bugs) - VT Entomology – thanks to VT Natural History Club volunteers

  • Caterpillars, Walking Sticks, Mantids, True Bugs
  • Scorpions, Vinegaroons, & Whipspiders
  • Exotic Cockroaches
  • Millipedes, Centipedes, Isopods
  • Velvet Ants, Wasps
  • Beetles


  • 10:00 am - Bee Waggle Contest
  • 10:45 am - Bug Whisperer
  • 12:00 pm - Costume Contest Winners & Parade
  • 12:10 pm - Bee Waggle Contest
  • 1:30 pm - Bug Easting Contest (Adults - fill out entry fom by noon)
  • 2:00 pm - 4-H Insect Collection Awards
  • 2:30 pm - 4-H Art Contest Awards
  • 3:00 pm - Bug Whisperer
  • 4:00 pm - Bug Whisperer


  • Tony Gustin - the Bug Whisperer - Milwaukee, WI
  • Wizards of Entomology - Blacksburg & Glen Allen, VA


  • Virginia 4-H – Virginia Cooperative Extension -- come fly a drone – view the world through virtual reality vision – learn about Virginia 4-H – sign up to receive a free children’s book.
  • Amazement Square – Children’s Museum & Learning Center – Lynchburg, VA

ART ROOMS (217, 219)

  • 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
  • Art Contest entrants - report to BugArt Studio before 10 am - entries will be exhibited in second floor hallway near gallery. Winners announced in auditorium at 2:15 pm.

IPM ROOMS (232, 234, 236)


  • Entrants should drop their collections off here for judging (by 11:00 am). Room open to public for viewing. Winners announced in Colonial Halll Auditorium at 2:00 pm.


  • Part of the Capps Insect Collection - an astounding collection of insects that is traveling the country - created by Dan and Jeff Capps; hosted by Tony Gustin


  • Live spiders of all kinds located this year in the halls of a spooky old mansion (but not that spooky) - for all ages - VT Entomology


  • S.A.F.E. Break Room - a sensory friendly environment - VT Center for Autism Research / VT Entomology (9:00 to 10:00 am) – open to the all families the rest of the day - Preview - Bug Zoo in North Hallway
  • Bug Library -- Regional Libraries of Montgomery/Floyd Counties – come learn about the library – read a book – relax.

BUG JEOPARDY -- second floor foyer (west)

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

BUG BINGO -- second floor foyer (east)  (1:00 TO 4:00 PM)

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


  • Pollination Station - Learn about Bees with our Pollinator Scientists (Room 342 & hallway)
    • Schurch Lab of Ecology
    • Couvillion Lab of Pollinator Ecology
    • Gross Lab of Molecular Physiology
    • Wilson Extension Apriculture Program
  • New River Beekeepers - Explore the world of beekeeping (Room 314 & hallway)


  • Bo/Ty Dawgs - Chilhowie, VA - The BoTy Dawgs are the pride and joy of Andy Overbay, Extension agent from Smyth County Cooperative Extension. They are the unofficial mascots of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Bo & Ty have a table in the Latham Foyer - but may be wandering the floors. Look for them and get some puppy cuddles.
  • Larry the Label Mascot - Pesticide Safety Education Program - Read the Label and Use Pesticides Safely!
Downtown Parking Map

Directions for General Public

From I-81: Take Exit 118B towards Blacksburg/460 West. Exit the 460 Bypass at the South Main Street exit. Follow South Main Street towards downtown. Turn left onto the Roanoke Street. Follow Roanoke Street to Otey Street. Turn right and park in either of the parking lots to your right. If these lots are full, there is parking on-campus and elsewhere in town. See maps above.

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 on the Virginia Tech campus. The town of Blacksburg will also offer free meter parking for the event. There are two parking garages near the site. Both are within walking distance but not immediately adjacent to the site. The Kent Square parking garage charges for parking on weekends. Virginia Tech parking, including the parking garages, are free. Beware of areas marked "24 Hours" parking. These are tow-away zones and are enforced at all times. For details go to Zoom out on the Google map above to see these locations.  Additional parking details are linked below:

Directions and Parking for Buses:

From I-81: Take Exit 118B towards Blacksburg/460 West. Exit the 460 Bypass at the South Main Street exit. Follow South Main Street towards downtown. 
Turn left onto Alumni Mall and follow the signs for bus parking. Parking for buses will be available at the Moss Art Center (first come, first available) or along the Alumni Mall as available.

Exhibitor Parking and Unloading:

Parking for exhibitors will be available in front of Squires Student Center on the Alumni Mall. Meters will be bagged for exhibitor parking only adjacent to Squires Loading Dock B (east end of Squires on the Mall). This dock is designated for HBF loading and unloading on Friday and Saturday. Please use this entrance for larger items. Otherwise, you can use the general public (second floor) Alumni Mall entrance for smaller items and carts until 9:00 am on Saturday. If you need assistance unloading/loading please call (540) 231-6543 by Thursday October 18th at 5pm. Please avoid loading through the South Entrance or parking in the parking lots in that area - this is the main entrance and parking for the public. Exhibitors with mobility issues may park anywhere.

Please note: College Avenue and Draper Road will be closed to thru traffic on October 20th for our event's outdoor activities

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

Squires Eateries

Virginia Tech Dining Services in Squires will be open on the day of the event. Menus and hours are usually posted online for each week.

  • Au Bon Pain
  • Burger 37

College Avenue Eateries

We are working with Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. to encourage downtown restaurants to offer themed meals and specials. It's just a short walk out the front door of Squires to access nearby restaurants. As a result we anticipate a wide variety of foods and food prices this year.

Eateries on or very close by College Avenue include:

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.

For handicapped children and their families, we will be opening at 9 am with activities at the Lyric Theatre and Squires Student Center. Hokie BugFest is designated a S.A.F.E. event for children with autism. S.A.F.E. rooms will open starting at 9 am at Squires and the Lyric (limited in size). The Squires rooms will be open throughout the day for families seeking a quiet or less stimulating environment for their children.

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 -

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 -

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
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Saturday - October 5, 2019

Squires Student Center, Virginia Tech & College Avenue, Downtown Blacksburg