By COLLETTE CAPRARA FOR THE FREE LANCE STAR
The folks at Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation invite all to join them on Saturday, April 23 at Old Mill Park for their celebration of Earth Day’s 18th. The event is truly an event presented by the community and for the community.
The widely popular gathering has grown steadily over nearly two decades, attracting more than 5,000 attendees in 2019. Featuring nearly 80 exhibitors and supported by eight local sponsors, this year’s celebration will provide an opportunity to learn more about our precious planet and the interdependent elements that make up our local ecosystem.
“Our goal is to provide a fun, family-friendly event that gets people passionate about appreciating and protecting our environment,” said Callie Brown, director of outdoor recreation. “Each of our exhibitors will offer an interactive or hands-on element, and many will have crafts or take-home projects, including seedlings, for families to plant and care for at home. Guests can learn about a number of environmentally conscious organizations and clubs in the community that they would like to get involved with throughout the year.”
People also read…
During the celebration, visitors can meet and greet the cute little critters from Karen Brace’s Awesome Possumz while learning about their history, their “superpowers” and the role they play in the environment. In addition, Earthquest – which has hosted previous events with Parks and Rec such as B. “Walk with a Hawk” hikes – introduce families to non-releasable birds of prey and rescued parrots. Guests can also visit Henry’s See-and-Touch Nature Bus and explore its collection of shells, hides, skulls and crystal specimens, as well as a fascinating insect exhibit.
Specimens from the Motts Run Nature Center will also be on display, and the park’s popular mascot, Pocket the corn snake (who will be celebrating her 25th birthday this summer) will make another appearance at the event.
The folks at Downtown Greens will also present exciting information about their recent expansion and opportunities for families to get involved with their initiatives throughout the year, and members of the Friends of the Rappahannock will talk about the nonprofit’s mission and a spectrum of conservation efforts speak that families have been able to attend, as well as its programs and children’s camps.
The Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers will also offer casting demonstrations and guide visitors in tying their own flies to take away.
Participating community organizations include the Virginia Master Gardeners, Virginia Master Naturalists and Tree Fredericksburg, who will be conducting a tree give-away of species including maple, dogwood, magnolia, oak, cypress and cedar.
Entertainment on the central stage throughout the day is provided by the infectious musicians of Johnny D & the Lowriders, Waney Edges and Jeff Brown. Also new this year will be a series of eco-talks, short conservation-related presentations, and question-and-answer sessions in the park’s amphitheater.
Highlights that will particularly delight children include pony rides, a barrel train ride and opportunities to meet the adorable Wildwood Alpacas.
To kick off the Earth Day celebrations, two community-wide activities and competitions will be held through April 22nd, with winners announced on April 23rd.
Virtual Bio Flash: All are invited to become Citizen Scientists by participating in the Virtual Bio-Blitz, where they can track and record observations of different species across the city or in any area of their choice via a free iNaturalist app. Not only will this introduce participants to the related species that make up our ecosystem, but it will also contribute to a valuable ongoing collaborative data repository.
Chalk and Talk Art Contest: This innovative exhibition begins tomorrow by inviting everyone to share their personal Earth Day message through a sidewalk chalk image in front of their homes, in their driveways, or in a parking lot or location of their choosing. To enter the competition, they can take a photo of their work and upload it to Fredericksburg Parks and Rec’s online entry form. First, second, and third place awards are given based on the creator’s message and the quality of their work. Parks and Rec will post the four locations on its website where sidewalk chalk kits will be made available for those who need them.
“I hope that all of the families attending our Earth Day celebration will be inspired and empowered in what they can do to take care of our planet and that everyone will take the opportunity to say hello to the wonderful community organizations engage, which will be presented at the event,” said Brown. “There will be parking at Old Mill Park, but we also encourage people to park along our Heritage Trail and walk to the festival as well. It’s a great way to enjoy nature!”
Receive the latest local entertainment news in your inbox weekly!