Earth Day Festival ends with Main Street block party

Joseph Zucker

Mother Nature certainly wasn’t going to rain on her own parade.

After a week of gray, wet weather, the “Who’s Your Mama” Earth Day Festival culminated with a block party on a sunny, warm Saturday on Main Street. The festival kicked off last weekend with the 3rd Annual Vegan Iron Chef Competition for both students and professional chefs. Other events had been going on all week leading up to the block party.

“We just wanted to emphasize green energy ideas and an appreciation of the environment,” said Jeff Ingram, producer for the event.

Part of the celebration was a film festival. Various films about the environment were shown throughout the six days. On Friday, the Kent Stage capped off the film festival with “Turtle: The Incredible Journey” and “Avatar.”

“Those two movies illustrated the kind of environmental topics we are trying to spotlight with the festival,” Ingram said. “Not only that, these are really beautiful visually. So it’s not like the average person would come and not be entertained.”

Prior to the movies was a reception in the lobby that featured locally grown foods. A trailer that ran on solar power powered the projector for the movies. Ingram said it was a good example to show that you don’t need gas to run everything.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, a portion of Main Street was blocked off to make for environmentally themed booths and demonstrations. Passersby could purchase organic foods and other products.

“I was really looking forward to this,” said Tim Burkholder, senior biology major. “To be honest, I just saw there was an Earth Day Festival going on downtown. I didn’t think too much of it until I saw everything they had.”

Jerry Gubanich consults with the city to measure the content of storm water. He had a booth that demonstrated how the kinds of parasites and bacteria can determine the quality of water.

“We have arrows which show which kind live in certain water conditions,” he said. “So we will have kids spin the wheel and they can see that if we would find leeches then we would know that the water quality is poor.”

Other events and demonstrations, which included a grass mat-weaving station and a pedal-powered generator, took place during the day. People could come and drop off their bicycles in the “Bike Valet Zone” sponsored by the Kent Bicycle Co-op. The Co-op also offered advice on bike trails and maintenance.

Burkholder said, “I don’t really consider myself to be a huge environmentalist, but it’s pretty interesting to see what kinds of things are going on.”

Gubanich said he and a group of students had gone down by the river for a cleanup earlier in the morning.

“There’s some college students who don’t even realize there is a river down there,” he said. “They just think it’s nothing but train tracks. Really, Kent is good when it comes to being environmentally clean. The river especially isn’t this clean in Akron and Cleveland.

“You look at a place like San Antonio and the river walk. It wasn’t always like that. They had to do some serious cleanup to get it like that. With time and effort, we can have something like that here.”

Ingram said the goal of the festival was to emphasize the need to stop using fossil fuels as energy.

“We only have one environment,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to preserve it.”

Contact Joseph Zucker at [email protected].