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Eco Festival To Feature Sustainable Food, Products and Transportation

This weekend, the Community Environmental Council will host the 43rd annual Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park in the West Coast’s most well-attended Earth Day celebration, with renowned environmental lawyer Van Jones and television personality Bill Nye, popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, both receiving the Environmental Hero Award at the festival.

The festival will feature a main stage with performances by local surf rock band Dante Elephante and numerous other musical and theatrical acts as well as a food court with a variety of dining options — such as veggie burgers, organic smoothies and freshly-baked pizzas and caterers like California Wood Fired Catering, McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream and the South Asian cuisine food truck Culture Shock. The event also holds a family–friendly atmosphere, with a Kid’s Corner where attendees can engage in face-painting, arts and crafts and other activities. There will also be an Earth Day Beer and Wine Garden located at the center of the festival, in addition to an Eco-Marketplace for green products, a Green Car Show and valet parking for bicycles, amongst several other earth-friendly activities.

Earth Day was first launched in 1970, in response to public outrage concerning the 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. The oil spill also led to the creation of the Community Environmental Council — one of the most established environmental organizations in the region and now the current host of Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival.

Since becoming a two-day event a few years ago, the festival has received about 35,000 visitors per year, according to Festival Director and member of the Community Environmental Council Sigrid Wright.

“We have a lot of festivals and events in this town, but this is one where you really feel there is a community being built. People come because they want to talk and share information,” Wright said. “[It is intended to] to get people into one place where they can share info, inspire each other, tell true stories, and celebrate and have a good time.”

Perhaps one of the most popular attractions of the festival is the Green Car Show, which features free “ride & drives” of the latest all-electric vehicles. These include the first all-electric SUV — the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV — and the 2013 Chevrolet Volt, which is the top-selling electric vehicle of 2012, in addition to other electric and hybrid cars. Last year, over 1,000 people participated in the test drives and Wright said the event is packed with cutting-edge technology and has grown to become the longest-running public green car show in the country.

Other highlights of the festival include a social media lounge, various contests and a public square where concerned community members can share their ideas with state, county and city legislative leaders. The festival’s Eco-Marketplace will offer a space where vendors can showcase environmentally-friendly products such as Fair Trade quinoa, organic candles, clothing made with low-impact dye and up-cycled materials and solar-powered reading lights.

The Earth Day festival will also host various groups exhibiting at Live Green, an area where people can share their knowledge on sustainable living methods and view displays on beekeeping methods, tower gardens and environmentally-friendly health care options, along with cows, goats and baby chicks.
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