GAMBIER — Forty-two years ago, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin took an idea from the playbook of the anti-war movement and proposed the idea of a national “teach in” to bring awareness to environmental issues.
On April 22 of 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans took part in the first “Earth Day.” Fast forward to 2012 and the 42nd Annual Earth Day: According to the Earth Day Network, more than a billion people from nearly 200 nations were expected to take part in countless related events Sunday. Locally, that meant the Earth Day Festival at the Kenyon Athletic Center, which capped off an ECO Week of Sustainability on the Kenyon College campus.
This was the 6th Annual Earth Day Festival at Kenyon, and as in every year since the inaugural event in 2007, it was presented by the Brown Family Environmental Center, Knox Community Hospital, the Knox County Health Department and the Knox County Park District. The theme of the festival was “Healthy People, Healthy World,” and hundreds of people of all ages turned out for the very kid-friendly event.
While amateur athletes pounded the pavement of Gambier and the Kokosing Gap Trail in the Earth Day Challenge Marathon and Half Marathon, others came inside the spacious KAC from the brisk spring weather. They enjoyed bluegrass music from Safire Sun, munched on snacks, and kept the youngsters busy with everything from sack races to a bounce house to a petting zoo and karate demonstrations. Mainly, though, attendees meandered among 70 booths presented by area companies, organizations, foundations, farms, clubs and artisans.
Heather Doherty, program manager of the Brown Family Environmental Center, was one of the event organizers and said the day’s goal was to bring people closer to environmental issues.
“Many people see the environment as something exterior to their lives,” Doherty said, “but it’s really about each one of us. We’re fortunate in this area to have a lot of green space, and we want to encourage conservation and bring awareness to the area’s natural diversity.”