Thousands of people gathered at El Chorro Regional Park on April 22, 2012 to celebrate the 42nd annual Earth Day where the theme was Get Down to Earth. For the 22nd year in a row, the Earth Day Alliance has successfully hosted San Luis Obispo County’s annual Earth Day Festival, and this year was no exception. With a musical line-up lasting throughout the event, including nationally known performer Brendan James and local superhero Mr. Eco, members and visitors of San Luis Obispo enjoyed a day in the sun celebrating the most environmentally conscious day of the year.
This year’s festival saw the most attendees in the event’s history. More than one-thousand people visited the park throughout the day. Event parking for festival-goers was made available at the nearby Cuesta College parking lot, while San Luis Obispo City Transit shuttled busloads of guests to and from the parking lot every 15 minutes on the Trolleys. In addition to RTA, SCAT and SLO City Transit providing free bus rides from every corner of the county; the Double Decker bus transported from downtown SLO to the festival. “Throughout the day the park was constantly being refilled with new visitors. The people that arrived by bike, carpool or bus truly wanted to be there. We’ve had nothing but good reviews”, said Sandra Marshall, Program Coordinator.
More than 100 vendors showcased various eco-friendly items and helped spread their green message from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alice Hamrick, representative for the UCCE Master Gardeners program, had a lot of success while showcasing at Get Down to Earth. “We focused on worm composting and people showed a lot of interest. They were very appreciative.” Other booths present at the festival were solar power energy companies, nature conservation programs, and a variety of local vendors who primarily focus on the “green” lifestyle. “Earth Day was the first time we tried a booth in the vendor section,” said Jan Sprague Chaffin, Field Representative for HANDS in Nepal, a local non-profit that builds schools in impoverished and remote areas in the Himalayas. “We sold mainly cotton scarfs, hand-woven yak hair items and clothing hand stitched bags. It was a fun day with a great atmosphere and excellent music.”
Most people enjoyed exploring the diverse booths while at Earth Day. The Kids Zone offered face painting and other fun crafts to entertain attendees of all ages. Los Osos Community Services District life size “Sammy the Steelhead” game board helped kids learn about water protection and conservation while having fun with Sammy the Steelhead Trout.
This was a great year for volunteerism at Earth Day. “We had an awesome response from all of the Community volunteers who contributed to the event. Each and every volunteer was eager to help and I am grateful that they gave their time and energy to Earth Day”, said Kristi Hogue, Volunteer Coordinator. “I was thrilled to have over 20 volunteers helping out from the California Conservation Corp alone”, added Hogue. As a nonprofit grassroots organization, the Earth Day Alliance counts on volunteers and interns to manage and carry out the event. From the first planning meeting to the last thank you, EDA relies on volunteers to bring it all together. For example, Architect, Aisling Fearon, contributed hundreds of hours to creating the park layout. From trash to stage set up everything goes into the plan and the successful execution.
Looking ahead to next year, the Earth Day Alliance plans to launch off of the success from Earth Day 2012. Many vendors have already promised to return after enjoying their experience at Get Down to Earth. “The event was well organized,” explained Harmick. “It is fun to come to festivals like this one that are filled with like-minded people.”