Kent celebrates Earth Day with downtown festival


achel Saudek performs a skit with Mattias Kaufmanm and Tomas Moose in Downtown Kent for Earth Day, April 20th, 2013. The performers were part of the Possibilitarian Puppet Theatre troupe based in Cleveland. Photo by Yolanda Li.

Brittany Nader

Members of the Kent community braved the cold weather to attend the “Who’s Your Mama?” Earth Day Festival Block Party on Saturday. This was the seventh year the event, hosted by Standing Rock Cultural Arts, has taken place in Kent.

Vendors from across Northeast Ohio lined Main Street selling organic and vegan snacks, free-range burgers, all-natural soaps and clothing.

Spencer Cutlip, chef at Ms. Julie’s Kitchen in Akron, had kale chips, vegan and gluten-free granola snacks, waffles and cookies for sale.

“At the restaurant … we do soups, salads and sandwiches that are all nourishing and delicious and wholesome,” Cutlip said.

Jeremy Koosed, another chef at Ms. Julie’s Kitchen, gave out samples of hemp seeds and explained they are the main source of protein used in the restaurant’s snack bars.

“We’re really a more nutrient-dense goody option,” Koosed said. “We’re promoting the veggie protein sources today. It’s all renewable energy.”

Portage Park District set up a table to educate attendees about expanding bike trails across the county, and the Kent Roosevelt High School Environmental Science Club discussed the house it is building that will be used to educate others on green living.

Clouds parted and the sun began shining around 2 p.m. when the Eco Circus parade began down the block. Women and men dressed in flower, fairy and animal costumes made their way down the street, some on stilts and others playing instruments. These costumes were created in workshops led by local artist Vince Packard.

Children huddled together in a makeshift ship with “We are all in the same boat” painted on the side, and they traveled down the street to the sounds of a clarinet and cymbals crashing.

The group made its way to the Home Savings Bank Plaza, and a performance by Cleveland’s Possibilitarian Puppet Theatre began. In ornate, handmade costumes, the performers demonstrated the evils of big business and the state of the environment while musicians played.

A performance by the Topography dance troupe and poetry reading by third grade elementary school students concluded the block party.

The “Who’s Your Mama?” festival will continue Monday with a Vegan Iron Chef competition at Canal Park in Akron.

Jeff Ingram, director of Standing Rock Cultural Arts and producer of the festival, explained that Kent and its surrounding areas have good soil, water, farmland and “people who want to make the world a better place.”

“This festival is meant to offer an opportunity for all to gather, eat, dance, listen to music and share in the possibilities of a greener future,” Ingram said.

Contact Brittany Nader at [email protected].