By Craig Smith
With tongues in cheek, the folks who organize the Earth Day Napa celebration invite you to join the third 50th Anniversary on Sunday, April 24 at the Oxbow Commons from 11am to 4pm. The first two, of course, were cancelled by COVID.
“We had big plans for the 2020 event,” said Taylor Radek Teague, event organizer since 2016. The two unavoidable cancellations disappointed a lot of people – the event draws big crowds, with an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 attended in 2019. The good news is that all the pent-up energy from the past two years of cancellations have the organizers psyched up. “We’re very excited for the belated 50th anniversary of Earth Day and hope the community will come out even more than in 2019 to help us celebrate. I think we all need a reason to gather,” said Radek Teague.
This is by no means a dry, stuffy, preachy event. While attendees will have the chance to learn more about alternative energy, supporting local agriculture, watershed health, pollution prevention and more, fun is a key element of the day. Live music, arranged and provided by Latitude 38, the folks behind BottleRock Napa Valley, begins at 11:30 a.m. and continues to 4:00 p.m. Delicious local food, beer and wine will be available. Activities include karate demonstrations, interactive booths with games and crafts, aerial dancing and more – activities for all to enjoy. As always, admission is free.
Originally, this was more of a ‘table-only’ affair, but after a few years, the organizers decided to add entertainment. “We didn’t want to be just preaching to the choir,” said Radek Teague. “We want people to walk away with tools they can use to support the planet, but we want them to have fun as well.”
The sales of beverages have also made this a money-making event. Beer and wine are donated by local breweries and wine is provided by Napa Green certified wineries. All of the proceeds from those sales fund the Field Trip Bus Grant program run by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County (EECNC), the event host. EECNC funds field trips for Napa County students to visit sites such as Skyline Park, Connolly Ranch, Carolyn Parr Nature Center and Bothe State Park, where they can gain an appreciation of the local environment. Proceeds also support the Darcy Aston Environmental Advocacy Scholarship, which is awarded to a local high school student who is planning to pursue a career in the environmental sciences.
Ride your bicycle to the Oxbow Commons in Downtown Napa and take advantage of free bicycle valet parking, provided by the Napa Bicycle Coalition. To keep in the spirit of the day and to help organizers achieve their goal of being a zero-waste event, bring your water bottles and stop by the “Water Bar” filing station.
And don’t miss the pre-party. Over the years, an increasingly popular aspect to the celebration is the Earth Day Napa Community Cleanup, which runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. “We had 250 participants at the 2019 Cleanup,” said Ashley Kvitek, who has organized it for the past three years. “People should bring gloves, a bucket and sturdy footwear that can get dirty.” Those wishing to help on the water can bring their canoes and kayaks, and meet at Kennedy Park. Although some of the stuff people will pick up can be muddy, it’s mostly manageable. “We used to find washers, dryers, sofas, all kinds of junk. People are much more responsible now.”
The first Earth Day in the country was held in 1970, in response to several environmental catastrophes, particularly the Santa Barbara oil spill and the Cuyahoga River fires of 1969. Many Americans felt it was time to take a more active approach in the stewardship of the planet. According to Kendra Bruno, the City of Napa’s recycling expert and another event organizer, Napa held its first Earth Day celebration in 2008.
For more information on the event, visit earthdaynapa.com.
Sunday, April 24 Oxbow Commons | 11am-4pm