Photos by John Clow, Staff Photographer
Residents of Santa Barbara County gathered together at Alameda Park on Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, to celebrate Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival, held by the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council (CEC).
The local community played a major role in the start of Earth Day after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Assistant Director of the CEC and Festival Director Sigrid Wright explained how the oil spill brought about a greater “environmental consciousness to the public.” On April 22, 1970, the CEC held a large “environmental teach-in,” which ultimately led to the birth of the Earth Day festivals.
Creating a festival of this scale is no walk in the park. Wright and other members of CEC begin prepping for the festival months in advance.
“We start planning about six months out and then have about four solid months of intense planning and organizing,” said Wright. “It’s a huge commitment and ends up being about two thousand volunteer hours total.”
The theme of this year’s festival, “Local Roots,” was fitting of the various events, including the pop-up farm-to-table dinner–which served all local ingredients–and the Homegrown Roots section of the festival where local farmers and artisans shared their products and produce.
“We want to bring attention back to the local level,” said Wright.
Vendors from the eco-marketplace emphasized the importance of environmentally friendly products. Jessica Robertson from the local company Burly Brother Woodworking discussed how their wooden products are made from old wood burls.
“This way we’re not going into forests chopping down trees,” said Robertson.
The festival aims to increase environmental consciousness through a variety of events, such as the Green Car Show. One of the largest of its kind in the country, the show is a venue for displaying various vehicles that run on electricity or alternative fuels.
“We want to promote more efficient vehicles that don’t need oil,” explained Michael Chiacos, the Energy and Transportation manager of the CEC. “The Green Car Show also emphasizes the many great benefits of driving an electric vehicle… [Green cars] are three times more efficient, help keep the air clean, and reduce green house gasses by up to 75 percent.”
The festival also held a sports and recreation area promoting physical health and outdoor activities, and even offered free yoga and meditation on site. The Live Green area featured many different solar companies promoting the use of solar power and electricity. Even the youngest of festival-goers were actively involved. The kids’ area held a variety of learning activities for children of all ages, including a mini stage with educational presentations and tips on how to go green.
The festival featured a main stage where people could listen and dance to great music. Santa Barbara local Julia Garcia likes to attend the festival for the beer and wine garden, as well as the live music.
“The music selection has improved every year and has a good selection this year,” said Garcia.
This year’s festival had something for everyone, and every year, the festival seems to draw in more and more people from all over California.
“The festival has grown over the last few years… [It] is one of the largest on the West Coast,” said Wright. “[These festivals] help call attention to the people in society thinking about solutions [to environmental problems]…and are good for putting people in touch with each other.”