Columbia gears up for Earth Day

A festival will be located at Peace Park on Sunday.

The Subterraneans play during the 2008 Earth Day festival at Peace Park. The Columbia Earth Day Coalition is sponsoring a similar celebration this Sunday at the same park. Maneater File Photo

In celebration of another Earth Day and to educate the community about living sustainably, the Columbia Earth Day Coalition is holding a festival on April 19.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Director Mark Haim, one of the event's coordinators, said the event is celebrating its 20th consecutive year.

"I have a feeling that this is going to be the biggest one yet," Haim said. "It's really Columbia's big spring festival and a smorgasbord of all that Columbia and mid-Missouri has to offer."

The festival will be located at Peace Park, and include a street fair, a kid's park and an "Eco Avenue" that will house more than 200 booths from local businesses, artists, government agencies, political groups and non-profit organizations all promoting environmental education and sustainability.

"The highlight is sustaining, which is the goal of Eco Avenue," Haim said. "There, people can learn how to reduce their ecological footprint. Each aspect of out lifestyle can make a difference."

Eco Avenue coordinator Christine Gardener said any and all people who come to the event will leave with knowledge about helping the environment.

"From electronic recycling to compost piling, there's something for everyone," Gardener said. "We're hoping that they leave with a couple of down to earth tips on how to be sustainable that they can bring into their lives on Monday."

In addition to Eco Avenue, there will also be two stages featuring live entertainment throughout the day, one in Peace Park and the other on Eighth Street. The Peace Park stage will feature 14 musical acts and be broadcast live on KOPN/89.5 FM. The Eighth Street stage will feature live music from the MU Jazz Performance Studies Department. There will also be a kid's park, demonstrating nature-based arts and crafts.

"The kid's park will help children and their parents learn how to appreciate and enjoy nature," said Jan Weaver, director of MU environmental studies and a board member of the coalition. "Hopefully, they'll become more comfortable with nature and its beauty."

For students, there will be information throughout on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle when they look for apartments in the coming years.

Weaver said Sustain Mizzou will be on hand to provide information to students.

"When students go to buy their apartments, they're on a budget and tend to just look for the place with the cheapest rent," Weaver said. "But then their savings end up going into their utility bills. If they know how to be energy efficient and sustainable by doing things like taking public transportation, it will help in the long run. It's not just about cheaper rent."

The festival will be held on April 26 in case of rain or foul weather, but Gardener said people should come to the event -- regardless of what day it's on -- to celebrate the planet.

"The whole point of Earth Day is to think about the planet, or at least know the planet a little better," she said. "A lot of people don't even go outside anymore and don't even know what's in their backyards. We hope to get these people outside and show them the beauty. You tend to fall in love with it and that makes you want to protect it."

For a complete schedule of the festival's events, go to [Columbiaearthday.org].(http://www.columbiaearthday.org/)

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