The elusive sunshine joined approximately 10,000 people this weekend to celebrate Mother Earth in downtown Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara County Community Environmental Council (CEC) hosted the 11th annual Earth Day Festival on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens. The festival included live entertainment, product demonstrations, exhibits and information from numerous environmental organizations.
“This festival is a combination of celebration and education. A lot of people work day after day on these tough issues,” said Sigrid Wright, CEC director of communications. “So this is a day to kick back and have a good time. It’s a day to learn about solutions, not only problems.”
The festival’s live entertainment included performances by Glen Phillips, the former lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, and local band Area 51. Wright said the live music is a main attraction for attendants.
“The music is the obvious draw,” she said. “It’s back-to-back from 10 to 5:30 on a solar-powered stage. We hope people will come down for the fun and the music and leave having learned something new about the environment.”
Other festival highlights included the “Walk Through Time” exhibit that consisted of a 90-panel illustration of the Earth’s evolution, a hemp pavilion and a family area where children could make art projects and have their faces painted.
“We are very excited about the ‘Walk Through Time.’ It is an exhibit that’s been all around the world,” Wright said. “This is the first time it’s been to Santa Barbara. It tells the story of our evolution. The exhibit is about one-half mile long and every foot is a million years.”
Naomi Schwartz, 1st District Supervisor, said the festival was a reminder for people to keep working for a healthier environment.
“Thirty-one years ago we celebrated the first Earth Day,” Schwartz said. “Let’s all remember today how important it is to look over our shoulders to inspire further generations. We have to keep working to keep moving forward. We need to hear a rededication to Mother Earth.”
Many environmental organizations, including the CEC and Get Oil Out!, used the day to promote awareness of their issues. GOO! Chair Diane Conn said the organization attended the festival to educate and involve concerned community members.
“Get Oil Out! is known as the first grassroots organization. An environmental movement was born out of the oil spill and so are we,” Conn said. “There is a lot of oil developing going on from coast to coast. We want concerned people to get involved.”
Conn said she was impressed by the number of organizations represented at the festival.
“It is amazing to see how many organizations there are to take care of the environment,” she said. “This is an amazing community and hopefully more people can get the message. We could be a model community for others and I feel very privileged to live here.”
The festival provided an opportunity to enjoy the good weather and participate in a Santa Barbara celebration, junior business economics major Stephanie Bertoux said.
“I really liked being outside and listening to the bands,” she said. “The community has really come together to celebrate Earth Day and it was great to see the leaders in our community contributing. I’m impressed with the work that’s being done to better the environment.”