The annual community Earth Day Festival is back with a variety of new activities: a life-sized Operation game, healthy cooking demonstrations, potted seeds to take home and a baby cow to pet.
The free festival and accompanying Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon and Four Mile are expected to draw at least 2,500 people on Sunday, April 19, at the Kenyon Athletic Center.
The festival, in its ninth year, also features free blood pressure screenings, live music and more than 90 exhibitors, including artisans selling local or upcycled products, such as bowls made of old records. New this year is a series of demonstrations with the theme of “Grow-Eat-Compost-Repeat.”
AVI Fresh, which partners with Kenyon to prepare 40 percent of the college’s food needs from local sources, will present a cooking demo with seasonal produce. People will receive a copy of the recipe, and they can plant seeds of the featured produce in take-home pots with the Ohio State University Extension.
“The Earth Day Festival is unique in highlighting the direct connections between our environment and our health. We're focusing on food because it's a great example of this intersection, it relates directly to our community, and it's something everyone cares about, since everyone has to eat,” said Heather Doherty, director of programming for the Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon College.
BFEC is sponsoring the event with three Knox County offices: the Health Department, the Park District and the OSU Extension.
People can visit BFEC’s exhibit to learn how to help a beloved species: the monarch butterfly. The center will give away milkweed seeds and sell milkweed plants, which monarchs visit to lay eggs. The Gund Gallery will offer butterfly face painting and a butterfly art project.
Local farmers will be there as well, with early spring lettuces and greens, plus vegetable starts for planting, maple syrup and eggs. Doherty is hoping some asparagus will be up in time for the festival, she said.
In an open space for children, visitors can try tumbling with Gigglenastics of Mount Vernon, a mini-fitness competition with the YMCA, an exercise ball demo with the United Way of Knox County and a science project about water filtering with SPI Spot.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with most exhibitors inside the KAC. If it rains, tents will be provided to protect farm animals outside, including a mini donkey, rabbits, chickens and goats.