Where is the PAFF?

The Annual PA Firefly Festival takes place on the grounds of the Black Caddis Ranch B & B in Kellettville, just 15 miles east of Tionesta on Route 666. The address is 13558 Route 666, Tionesta, Pa 16353. PARKING $5 donation, proceeds benefit PAFF and AmVets post 113.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Planning for 2020!

While we are on this rollercoaster ride of a winter, where the weather can't decide what it's going to do, we are thinking ahead to June, 27.  The calls are going out for the return of exhibitors, educators, artists, crafters and food vendors.  We invite those interested in participating in the festival to apply on our website.

We are also proud to have received a second year of funding from the Elk County Council on Art for a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Grant to fund our Art After Dark.  Interested artists, musicians and/or performers who have art or performances that are expressly suited to be viewed in the dark, i.e. lighted, glowing or illuminated by natural means are encouraged to apply.  Click here to get more details and an application.   The music line-up is complete, and we welcome back our favorites Matt Miskie, Glympse Above, Bluegrass Sweethearts and Catro.  The Little Leroys will be joining us for the first time.  Our music is sponsored again thanks to a grant from the J. Bowman Proper Trust. 

The firefly season in Pennsylvania will be upon us in 5 months, so we will be releasing a schedule of Guided Firefly Viewing Programs at locations throughout North and South Western PA.  Last year, we scheduled over 9 locations, and we will re-visit many of those sites including the ANF and US Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds.  Plans are in the works for some more southern sites in Butler and Fayette counties.   All of these programs require people to help guide visitors to see fireflies.  We welcome anyone who might be interested in becoming a PA Firefly Guide to join us.  Go to our website for more information, or contact us at pafireflyfestival@gmail.com.

For those of you who are hoping just to see fireflies sometime this summer, keep your hats on; it is still pretty cold.  We have lots of planning and work to do before we can start taking reservations.  We will announce the opening of the registration in late April.  Pre-registration won't begin until May 1.  If you subscribe to the PAFF newsletter now, you will receive an email announcement in advance of the opening that will provide you with the links to view the schedule.  For now, you can make reservations for lodging or camping in the area for the festival dates or a weekend in June or early July.  Click here for a thorough list of accommodations in the Forest County area. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The 7th Annual PAFF Is A Wrap!!

Phew! What a great festival! We topped out at 663 visitors on the counter.  The weather was beautiful during the day and quite a celebration with all the firefly experts, music, food and fun.  The cool night temperatures did not squash the enthusiasm despite the small number of fireflies. Don Salvatore from the Firefly Watch Citizen Science Project had the crowd mesmerized and amazed by the Secret Lives of Fireflies.  Ibiyinka Alao and his interpretive dancers performed an inspired live interpretation of his stories, and showed his animated film "My Fireflies".   It seems everyone got to see at least some fireflies albeit a small show on the ground.  Everyone who wanted to see them got a good opportunity.   All of the guests were so understanding, complimentary, patient and respectful (we are always amazed at how little there is to clean-up after the crowds).  I think this demonstrates how the educational aspect of what we do helps people understand the fireflies and what they are going see (or not see) and why.  We didn't have one person complain or disparage the festival for something we ultimately cannot control... NATURE!

The other big success this year was all the HELP! We ran out of STAFF vests, and by my calculations over 50 people worked at some level from registration, information, exhibitors, presenters, merchandise, vendors, performers, parking, gatekeepers and GUIDES!!  This was by far the BEST group effort to date.  We can't thank you all enough!

This year, we also had the support of researchers from two Universities.  Ms. Avalon Owens and her research assistant Caroline Dressler from Tufts University are spending the summer here in Kellettville studying the effects of artificial lights on wild fireflies.  Dr. Sarah Lower from Bucknell University brought 5 undergraduate students here to study the diurnal fireflies (daytime fireflies) and they also provided support on the Kellettville Bridge that night to answer questions from the Creek Walk fireflyers.  They are all so eager and energetic when it comes to fireflies.  We are very grateful for their help and look forward to many more summers of firefly research here.

Now the good news... The temperatures have warmed up this week.  We are seeing Synchronous Fireflies in the forest once again.  We still have a couple more programs on the schedule at the Tionesta Campground Outflow (reservations are full), and Cook Forest Visitor Center on Friday, June 28.  Don't forget next weekend July 5 & 6 is World Firefly Day weekend.  Go out in your backyard, your nearest forest or farm field and enjoy the fireflies! We hope you will and you join us again next year for more FIREFLIES!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

2019 Firefly Season Updates

June 1st kicks off the 2019 Firefly Season in Forest County.  We are so excited for another amazing season and looking forward to the many firefly activities, programs, research, films, photography, art, music, and of course, the 7th Annual Festival on June 22.  We have been blessed with dozens of great volunteers, friends and family who are working hard to make this the best season and festival ever.  We have also been honored by all the grant funding from Forest County Tourism, J. Bowman Proper Trust, Huplits Wildlife Foundation, Plimsoll, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts and Bridge Builders.  We are also grateful for the individual donations and over 400 who have preregistered for all the guided firefly expeditions.

The Spring Newsletter was sent to our subscribers in May, so if you are not a subscriber, click here for all the news and the events that are taking place throughout Forest County and beyond.  However, you will want to subscribe to get the future quarterly editions.  Our subscribers will benefit from early notice of the opening of the registration for the 2020 PAFF and the links to the ticketing website.

The fireflies of Forest County are attracting more than ecotourists.  We have been the focus of some of the top firefly scientists since 2011.  This year, Tufts University has sent researchers to Forest County. The Tufts' Team Firefly led by Ms. Avalon Owens, Ph.D. candidate, is residing here in Kellettville through July.  Owens and her student team Caroline Dressler, Tufts U;  PAFF Summer Intern, Morgan Silvis, Penn State, and  PAFF Festival Intern, Belle Ralston of Forest Area Schools, will be studying the effects of Artificial Light (ALAN) on the fireflies of Forest County.  You may see them in the area collecting fireflies for her experiment, and visitors to the festival will have a chance to see how the field experiments are being conducted and talk with the Team about their research.  These young women are very knowledgeable and so enthusiastic about the fireflies.
So far, the firefly season is developing at the usual pace.  We are noting some of the early-emerging species in the trees, perhaps pyractomena,  and a male photuris was collected last night.  The rain and warm nights are ideal for fireflies.  As long as the temperatures don't dip into the 50s, we expect we will start seeing the emergence of more within the next week to 10 days.

We encourage you to watch and observe the fireflies in your neighborhoods, forests and fields.  If you have fireflies, it is a good sign that your environment is healthy and well balanced.  The firefly is known as an "indicator" species, like the proverbial canary in the mine.  If you don't have fireflies (and you live in this part of the country), then there's some reason, and you should be concerned.  It could be a red flag that your habitat is compromised due to pesticides, lawn treatments or lack of adequate suitable vegetation, water pollution and/or light pollution. 

Here are some important firefly watching tips:
  • Wear protective clothing including sturdy footwear, boots are recommended, long sleeves and pants
  • Cover flashlights with a red filter, or better yet, let your eyes adjust and don't use any light.
  • Stay on the path or paved sidewalk.  Watch where you step. Adult females and larva may be on the path or ground where you are walking or standing.  The females' flash and larva glow, but it is dim and you may not see them especially if you are using a flashlight.
  • Don't wear bug spray if you want to catch fireflies
  • Use a butterfly net
  • Include a damp paper towel or a small slice of apple in the jar
  • Catch and release the lightning bugs in the same area you caught them later that night
We hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy Summer's Dazzling Gift of Fireflies this season.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


The PA Firefly Festival organization and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute invites you to the FREE Double-Feature  PA Firefly International Film Festival on April 20th at the MACA building in Marienville and a second screening at the Sarah Stewart Bovard Memorial Library in Tionesta on Monday, April 22nd (Earth Day).  The doors open at 6:30 pm for both events. The 2 films being shown are the animated short "MY FIREFLIES" by Ibiyinka Alao and the 2018 Award Winning Documentary, "The Serengeti Rules", portions of which were filmed here in Forest County in 2016.  Residents and campers will recognize scenes of Mayburg, Kellettville and Yellowhammer.  The film is not due to be released in theaters on the coasts until May.  So, this is a real PREVIEW opportunity for Forest County.  Mr. "Ibi" Alao will be in attendance for a Q&A session after his film.  Concessions will be provided by the Marienville Youth Baseball at the MACA.  PAFF will have firefly merchandise and the brand new 2019 Festival T-shirts on sale.  Donations will be accepted and always appreciated.

In addition, on Saturday, April 20th from 1-3 pm PAFF and Forest Area Arts Council are sponsoring a  Painting Workshop with Ibiyinka Alao.  Ibi is a United Nations Ambassador of the Arts from Nigeria. He is a painter and filmmaker who has become a good friend and supporter of the PA Firefly Festival and Forest County.  His film "My Fireflies" will be screened later that evening at the film festival.  Ibi will conduct a painting workshop for all ages and artistic abilities from 1-3 pm at the MACA.  Registration is $20 per adults and $10 for students.  Call 814-463-7606 or email pafireflyfestival@gmail.com to register by April 18.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

2019 News

We are well underway with plans for the 7th Annual PA Firefly Festival.  We know many of you are looking forward to the firefly season based on the subscriptions to the newsletter, emails and phone calls requesting information.  We released a newsletter on February 14th and many of you have subscribed since that time and maybe missed out on the information.   So, click here  to read the February newsletter. 

The most important news is our fundraising event with The Bridge Builders Community Foundation during the Week of Giving, March 18-22.  If you want to support our mission of firefly education through celebration, then you can contribute to the PA Firefly Festival online during that week and help us to multiply the donations.  Your contributions of $25 or more will be collected through the Bridge Builders Foundation and then distributed to us with the chance of generating matching funds from other organizations to help us increase the dollars.  Click here to make your tax-deductible donation between March 18 and 22, just 10 days away. Thank you!

Since the February newsletter, we've also added another event before the PA Firefly International Film Festival on April 20th.   The PAFF and FAAC Painting Workshop with Ibiyinka Alao.  Ibi is a United Nations Ambassador of the Arts from Nigeria. He is a painter and filmmaker who has become a good friend and supporter of the PA Firefly Festival and Forest County.  His film "My Fireflies" will be screened later that evening at the film festival.  Ibi will conduct a painting workshop for all ages and artistic abilities from 1-3 pm at the MACA.  Registration is $20 per person and limited to 40 painters.  Call 814-230-2035 or email pafireflyfestival@gmail.com to register by April 14.

The 2019 PA Firefly Excursion schedule is developing as well, and as dates and locations become confirmed we will release more information.  Stay tuned to the PAFireflyfestival.org website, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest.