There will be something for all ages at "Bat-Fest" Saturday, October 22 at Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. "Bat-Fest" is part of a two-day celebration to mark the dedication of Sodalis Nature Preserve, Hannibal’s  second largest park and a nationally important Indiana bat habitat area.  There is no cost.

"Bat-Fest" will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Educational presentations (listed below) will be provided hourly on the stage at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center:

  • 10:30 a.m. Urban Bat Conservation by Missouri Bat Census
  • 11:30 a.m. Bat Ecology and White-nose Syndrome by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • 12:30 p.m. Missouri Bats by Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • 1:30 p.m. History of Lime Kiln Mine by Hannibal-LaGrange University professor Louis Riggs

There will also be exhibitors and booths with family friendly activities and information, including an Inflatable Bat Cave Experience by Missouri Department of Natural Resources and booths by Missouri Bat Census, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Missouri Department of Conservation, Mark Twain Cave Complex,  Hannibal Parks & Recreation, Parents as Teachers and Hannibal Clinic and others.

The first 100 children will be able to make a bat cape at the Parents as Teachers booth. Safe trick-or-treating is the focus of the Hannibal Clinic booth and live bats will be fed at the Missouri Bat Census booth. The inflatable Bat Cave Experience allows youngsters to explore and learn about caving.

Opened in the spring of 2016, the 185-acre Sodalis Nature Preserve features recreational trails and hibernating habitat for an estimated 168,000 federally endangered Indiana bats (approximately one-third of all the Indiana bats in the world) in the former mines beneath the preserve.

The preserve will be officially dedicated on Friday, Oct. 21, beginning with a speaking program at the Sodalis Nature Preserve parking lot at 700 Ely Street starting at 4:30 p.m. Among the speakers will be Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior.

A guided hike of the preserve will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by live music by the Rag- Tag Irish Band at the amphitheater and the nightly bat emergence viewing. Visitors are encouraged to bring flashlights and appropriate footwear.