Local Earth Day celebration educates, entertains crowd
The sun shone brightly down on Sam Michael’s Park on Saturday, as it swarmed with visitors during the 10th Annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration.
Dozens of crafters and vendors sold their wares while attendees listened to live music, took nature walks and visited conservation demonstrations at the free event led by the nonprofit Panhandle Earth Day organization.
“This is the first time we’ve had the celebration here,” said event co-coordinator Matt Robinson, who has mapped for the Appalachian Park Service for 18 years. “Sam Michael’s Park is in the middle of the Eastern Panhandle, and it gives us room to grow.”
“Our other hope with moving our event here is to build our partnership with Jefferson County Parks and Recreation, so they can help us bring more events and vendors to our celebration,” Robinson said, mentioning a 5k will be added to next year’s schedule.
“Our purpose is to educate people about conservation. We have the music to bring people here, but hopefully they will walk around and learn some new things while they’re here,” said Director Tara Jenkins, who first learned about the celebration while playing with her band at the event.
Hanging out with Jenkins and Robinson was Ed Zahniser, of Shepherdstown, who worked for three years for an environmental group in Washington, D. C., before transitioning to work for the National Park Service for about 30 years. He said he “grew up in a very environmentally aware family.”
“My father wrote the 1964 Wilderness Act that created the National Wilderness Preservation System, which perpetually protects 110 million acres of federal public lands,” Zahniser said, mentioning he has attended this celebration since it was founded in 2009.
“I’m a firm supporter of anything that helps the earth, especially during this current administration in Washington,” Zahniser said.
Six bands – The Gin Rickys, The Woodshedders, Herb & Hanson, The Gypsy Ramblers, Todd Coyle Band, Black Masala and Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise – and FAME Musician Know1Else performed throughout the day, allowing attendeees to enjoy a musical smorgasbord while shopping and visiting beekeeping, blacksmithing, resin artwork and local conservation project demonstrations.
“We only have one Earth. If we don’t do anything to take care of it, that’s very sad,” said Penny Manion, of Shepherdstown, who was volunteering with the voters registration booth. “I’m a big gardener, so I try to enjoy the earth that way.”