The 10th annual Earth Day Festival will celebrate how healthy it is for people to be outdoors.
The free festival, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Kenyon Athletic Center, is themed “Healthy Inside & Out” to encourage visitors go outside to keep themselves and the planet healthy.
“Even exploring your backyard with your children is meaningful,” said Heather Doherty ’98, director of the Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon. “You can find lightning bugs and katydids. There are small things you can really appreciate.”
After a decade of growth, the Earth Day Festival now draws about 2,500 people. Visitors connect to environmental and health-related resources from more than 90 exhibitors, including the Kenyon College Bookstore, which will have a booth to sell books related to health and the environment.
“I’m happy that it’s grown into such a broader event for the College,” Doherty said.
Visitors will enjoy hands-on nature and farm animals, learn how to bring nature into their backyards with native plants, and find out about Knox County’s great spaces for getting outdoors. Visitors also will have an opportunity to take action by writing personal commitments for green, healthy living.
“Spending time in nature reduces blood pressure and helps with symptoms of ADHD,” Doherty said. “Walking or bicycling outdoors does even more to improve health and fight obesity. For young people, it plants the seeds for developing a sense of stewardship for our world.” To emphasize that, visitors this year will have two new environmentally friendly ways of getting to the festival. Knox Area Transit (KAT) will shuttle people from nearby Mount Vernon to the KAC, and bicyclists can enjoy a staffed five-mile course to the festival on their own bike or a rental.
The shuttle buses “are a meaningful addition because we can reach parts of the community that we couldn’t reach before,” Doherty said. The KAT shuttles will pick up people at Riverside Park, Columbia Elementary, Mount Vernon High School’s stadium, the CA&C Depot at 501 S. Main Street in Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon’s downtown square, Dan Emmett Elementary and the Hiawatha Water Park.
The bike course will begin at the CA&C Depot. There will be free bike helmets for children, thanks to a grant received by the Knox County Health Department. Y-Not Cycling will provide bike rentals for a donation of any amount.
The five-mile course will have portable bathrooms and volunteers to assist riders. There will be a secure bike corral at the KAC, and K-Bikes from Gambier will do three workshops on bicycle maintenance, at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Y-Not Cycling is giving away a bicycle at the festival; everyone who attends gets a ticket for a chance to win, and people who ride the five-mile course to the festival get an additional ticket and a bag of giveaways.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon and Four-Mile races that begin at 8 a.m. before the festival. Participants of all abilities are invited to walk or run through the historic Kenyon College campus; half-marathon runners continue on the Kokosing Gap Trail and end at the KAC.
The Earth Day Festival is hosted by the Brown Family Environmental Center, Knox County Health Department, Knox County Park District, Knox County Recycling & Litter Prevention and OSU Extension Knox County.