By: Julia Hall – Online Editor-in-Chief
Heart-shaped globes, sunflowers, and whiskers were painted on the faces of those as they enjoyed a brisk Earth Day at UD’s celebration: Earth Fest. On Saturday, students, staff, and members of the greater Dayton community celebrated the planet with the very first Earth Fest at Old River Campus.
This collaborative effort of Campus Recreation, Sustainability Club, Outdoor Adventure Club and River Stewards resulted in a well-attended event. Despite the thermostat averaging 49 degrees, approximately three hundred attendees roamed Old River Park over a four hour time frame.
Earth Fest began to take form in January with a 10 member student committee, headed by junior environmental biology major and sustainability minor, Meg Maloney. Throughout the spring semester, they have met every Sunday to develop Earth Fest.
Along the pathway, the Earth Fest committee had several tables with activities ranging from planting organic seeds to face painting. Earth Fest also exhibited musical performances by Gyruss, The Daytimers and Nick Bianco.
With the air full of tunes, corn hole bags soared, dogs from 4 Paws for Ability were petted, adventuring humans balanced on the slackline. Under the shelter, a competition ensued: a play on the Food Network’s “Chopped.” Veggie burgers flipped, vegetables were sliced and quesadillas sizzled.
“Today I judged the chopped competition here at Earth Fest. I judged four, very delicious meals. We had a stuffed pepper, a quesadilla, a… I want to call it a shell, it was a burger bun filled with goodness, and a regular burger. And the secret ingredient today was pineapple,” explained
Ani Artero, Marianist Pulse Volunteer, the River Mobile Coordinator for the River Institute. The quesadilla team took first prize, winning outdoor gear.
At another booth, Sustainability Club set up a bike blend station to serve smoothies. “It is a great, sustainable way to eat your food because you do not need any electricity,” Celia Montemurri, sophomore environmental biology major, stated, “You could ride to work and when you get there your breakfast would be ready.”
Campus Recreation and River Stewards worked together to coordinate a kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding station. Both experienced and beginner paddlers had the chance to get out on the lagoon. “People tried paddling for the first time that never paddled before,” Maloney stated.
“I think Earth Fest, one of the main missions of it was to bring people out and see what fun we could have, and we also have a lot of learning pieces that were here for students who don’t usually get exposed to this kind of stuff. To be introduced and talk about in a fun, creative environment,” commented Sarah Richard, sophomore mechanical engineering major, River Steward and Campus Recreation employee.
The location of the event, Old River Park, sits adjacent to River Campus, just off of S. Patterson Boulevard that runs along the Great Miami River. Just a hop-skip away from Main Campus, Old River Park is a green space and park that was originally owned by the National Cash Register (NCR) that UD obtained in 2009 when they purchased the former headquarters.
“This park is really under utilized and not a lot of people do not even know that it exists. So, it was cool bringing people into this space,” Maloney stated in regards to Old River Park.
There was a mellow buzz at Earth Fest, regarding the park, a green space that often sits dormant surrounded by chain link fence, the pointed towards the desire for increased accessibility for students and staff.
Reflecting on the connection of UD students to the outdoors, Montemurri stated, “You know, this is our Earth and we only have one, and it is great to have a day to celebrate all the amazing things that the Earth does for us. You know, we should be celebrating it everyday.”
To purchase your own bike blender, they are sold on Amazon as well as other online shopping websites.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Richard.