A celebration of the good Earth and good health blooms on April 6 when the Earth Day Festival returns to the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) with its companion event – the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon and Four-Mile Run.
The free festival kicks off a new county-wide health initiative and features more than 80 exhibitors, organizations, and vendors, with children’s activities, food, and music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival is preceded by the half marathon (13.1 miles) and 4-mile run that starts at 8 a.m. at the KAC.
Kenyon President Sean Decatur has signed up for the 4-mile run. “I enjoy running and outdoors activities, so I am looking forward to the event,” Decatur said. “Earth Day is an appropriate time to reconnect with the outdoors after a long winter, and it’s great that the community can come together to support both fitness, and the resources available at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC).”
“Healthy People, Healthy World” is the theme of the Earth Day Festival. “Those are goals that go hand-in-hand,” said Heather Doherty, BFEC director of programming. “Knox County is a special place in terms of natural beauty and community resources,” she said. “This is a unique event, a celebration of our community and a great place to learn how to take advantage of all that our area has to offer.”
The festival embraces a farmers market, artisans market, free health screenings, home products vendors, information on outdoors opportunities, a children’s activity zone with an obstacle course, farm animals, and door prizes awarded throughout the day. Entertainment includes music by Goslee Reed and Kean, a group that performs original folk and cover tunes with a touch of blues and bluegrass. AVI Foodsystems will offer locally sourced food at a concession stand.
“Celebrate Earth Day by shopping green, enjoying music, and connecting with people and groups that support healthy living,” Doherty said.
The Knox County Health Department, with the United Way and YMCA, will launch the Get Healthy Knox County campaign at the festival, health department spokeswoman Pam Palm said. The program will encourage residents to improve their nutrition, physical activity, and other wellness behaviors. Magnets that emphasize the daily “5-2-1-0” concept will be distributed, she said, noting that the numbers signify eating five fruits or vegetables, limiting recreational computer time to two hours, achieving one hour of physical activity, and drinking zero sugary drinks.
The festival is hosted by the BFEC, county health department, Knox County Park District and the Ohio State University Extension – Knox County. Parking at the KAC is free. To learn more, contact Doherty at email@example.com and at 740-427-5052.
Runners who take on the Earth Day Challenge will get a head start on the day. More than 400 runners finished the half marathon and 4-mile run in 2013. Runners follow a winding route through the Kenyon campus and along the Kokosing Gap Trail.
Post-race amenities in the KAC include food catered by Tim Hortons, shower facilities, and massages provided by students in the Knox County Career Center massage-therapy program. Anyone who completes the half marathon and 4-mile race may take a sapling home for planting. Those who complete the half marathon will also receive a commemorative Earth Day Challenge mug. Entry to the running events also provides a ticket for a runners-only, Earth Day Festival raffle.
“I like this synergy between the festival and the race,” said race director John Hofferberth, associate professor of chemistry. The half marathon attracts distance runners from around Ohio, and the 4-mile race is built for more casual, local runners. “It’s fun to do,” Hofferberth said. “I love it.”
Proceeds from the running events benefit the KenyonFit program and the BFEC program that supports local schools’ field trips.
Fees for the half marathon are $55 through March 15 and $65 through the race day and $25 for students. Fees for the 4-mile run at $25 through March 15 and $30 through the race day and $15 for students. To learn more about the running events and to register visit www.premierraces.org. For more information contact Hofferberth at firstname.lastname@example.org.