Hundreds Come Out to Enjoy 2014 Earth Fest
Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents, as evidenced by the hundreds of families who poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ 3rd annual sustainability celebration. Saturday’s event was certainly helped by sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, as folks lined up to enjoy Penn State Berkey Creamery Ice Cream and a wide array of activities.
Live music throughout the day entertained as well as directly involved attendees. Dozens of people of all ages participated in a community drum circle facilitated by Associate Professor Dr. Kathy Mastrian, who kicked off the event and brought international rhythms to the proceedings. Billy B, a performer from New York who is known as the “The Natural Science Song and Dance Man,” entertained and educated kids and families with an interactive show full of songs, raps, and dance moves. Greenville High School’s 25-member Steel Drum Band, under the direction of Christopher Williams, delighted the crowd with their Caribbean look and sound.
Throughout the day, children and families filled several activity stations sponsored by local groups and organizations. An art classroom transformed into a “Rainforest Room” hosted craft activities with a tropical theme. Members of Hermitage School District’s Green Team and their advisor Nancy Bires showed children how to make rain sticks, tropical plants, origami tree frogs, and tropical bird bracelets. Debbie Derrenbacher from First Presbyterian Church of Sharon and a handful of volunteers from the Shenango campus painted faces to resemble rainforest creatures. Oh Wow!, the Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, located in Youngstown, facilitated a variety of hands-on activities related to sustainable energy. Christian Kuharik of Circle K Pottery and Leslie Michael from the local Endowment For the Arts assisted families in creating commemorative clay tiles that will be included as part of a civic mural project planned for Sharon’s Community Action Partnership building on Dock Street. Student members of Penn State Shenango’s Agriculture Club provided a seed-planting activity for children and gave away free packets of flower and vegetable seeds, which were donated by Kraynaks.
Earth Fest 2014 included educational multimedia presentations on various environmental topics. Michael Kovach, of Sharpsville’s Walnut Hill Farm, gave a presentation entitled “Rethinking Our Food: What We Eat and How We Grow It.” This was a reprise of Kovach’s January 2014 talk at TEDx Youngstown, and community members packed Penn State Shenango’s Great Hall to hear his information on the environmental impact of food choices. Other presentations, included “Composting 101” by Jim Mondok of the Mercer County Conservation District and “Extending the Growing Season” by Elliott Lengel of Lengel Brothers Farm & Market, provided valuable information for the backyard gardener.
During the event, Penn State Shenango’s auditorium was transformed into a marketplace filled with tables representing environmentally- and socially-conscious local businesses, organizations, and artists. Montrose Nissan of Hermitage was on hand to display an assortment of fuel-efficient vehicles. Representatives of many of participating organizations, including WaterFire, Shenango River Watchers, Sharon Beautification Commission, Shenango Valley Gardeners, and the Mercer County Community Revitalization Association, reported that a large number of individuals signed up to volunteer for their organizations’ upcoming activities. The artists’ market allowed festival-goers to shop for a variety of unique items, from fair trade chocolate, to upcycled clothing and jewelry, to handmade soaps and candles.
For more information and photos from the event, visit http://www.facebook.com/PennStateShenangoEarthFest.