Santa Barbara residents can celebrate the environment, watch belly dancing and check out new environmentally friendly automobiles – all while enjoying the musical styling of local musician Crosby Loggins – this Sunday at the 36th annual Earth Day Festival in downtown Santa Barbara.

The Community Environmental Council, a Santa Barbara-based group, is hosting the event at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, last until 5:30 p.m. and are free to the public.

CEC Community Relations Associate Melissa Johnson said the event is sponsored by more than 90 local businesses and other CEC supporters. Educational booths about various environmental issues, as well as a the Green Car Show, featuring new hybrid automobile technologies and a solar-powered Hummer, will be present at the event. The Earth Day Parade – beginning at 12:15 p.m. – and an awards ceremony for local students who have completed environment-related community service projects will also occur. Musical artists such as Loggins, Stephen Ashbrook, Radius and the Leadbirds will perform throughout the day.

“It’s a really fun festival. We’re going to have bands on a solar-powered stage, belly dancing and a Green Car Show,” Johnson said. “The radio station KJEE [92.9 FM] is going to have a dunk tank as well, so we’re hoping it’s going to be sunny.”

Local vendors, such as the Isla Vista Co-op, will serve food at the festival. Melissa Cohen, I.V. Co-op outreach coordinator, said members of the co-op enjoyed the festival so much last year that they decided to become a community sponsor for this year’s event.

“We did it last year and it was super fun,” Cohen said. “It’s a great event. There’s tons of informational tables and we’re going to be there selling the really good sandwiches you can get at the co-op.”

Mary Byrd, Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District project manager, said prizes will be given away every hour. Byrd said the prize program, which is dubbed Come to Earth Day Care Free and Win is meant to encourage people to use alternate forms of transportation to cut down on pollution.

“We’re encouraging people to start celebrating Earth Day before they even leave their home,” Byrd said. “By walking, riding a bike or taking a bus, attendees are eligible to win prizes.”

Prizes include MTD bus tickets, pedometer sets, Amtrak tickets, a copy of Walk Santa Barbara and a bicycle.

The Santa Barbara Contractor’s Association will be one of the 90 local sponsors attending the festival. April Walters, administrative assistant for the association, said they will also host three new booths that promote Builtgreen – an effort to implement green building practices in Santa Barbara.

“We’ve sponsored the event before, but our old booth was just plain and no one paid any attention to it,” Walter said. “This year we have three booths, including one for kids.”

Johnson said the CEC has been hosting the event for the last 36 years in order to combine a fun atmosphere with educational programs about the environment.

“We’ve been involved in organizing the festival since 1970, the year that Earth Day was created,” Johnson said. “There’s great children’s entertainment and probably the best Green Car Show to date.”