'Bug Man' draws a crowd at 2014 heritage festival
SHAMOKIN - This year's Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts had even more attractions to appeal to children.
They included a bounceplex, camouflage face painting and the Army National Guard climbing wall.
But what seemed to fascinate kids the most was "The Bug Man," who was attending the festival for the first time this year.
Ryan Bridge, from York, who has spent 30 years traveling the world on insect hunting expeditions, drew an audience with his vast collection of bugs. Bridge had everything from Madagascar hissing cockroaches to tarantulas.
An interest that was sparked when he was 5 years old, his first bug being a cicada, has turned into a collection of more than 360 drawers full of insects. This fascination and passion has led him to travel to libraries, parties, schools and even nursing homes.
"Everyone loves bugs," he said.
Teaching entomology since 1995, he has made a love for insects into a living with youth outreach and education programs through various school districts and Pennsylvania's 4-H organization.
Bridge on Saturday did his best to make his large crowd comfortable with the live display, telling them, "See, I'm not hurt. They are harmless."
He said his job is easy at an event such as the arts festival.
"You just stand back and let them come to you," he said.
Come to him they did, with intrigue from children and adults. The questions were endless, perhaps starting a new tradition for the festival.