With free trees, green home improvement DIY classes, kitten adoptions and live music, Arlington will be celebrating its fifth annual Ecofest on Saturday. Residents are invited to come to the event to learn about the environment and how to be green in their daily lives.
Last year, the event had 15,000 attendees, said Heather Dowell, the Urban Forestry and Land manager and event coordinator. This year, she expects the attendance to be between 15,000 and 20,000 people. Despite the daunting numbers, Dowell said there is enough room for everyone to come in the span of 12 hours and experience the community.
“We’re trying to help people create a more sustainable lifestyle,” Dowell said.
To Dowell, an eco-friendly way of living also includes physical wellness and exercise.
“Clean air, healthy organic food, taking care of the environment for the future, it all ties in together with a healthy lifestyle,” Dowell said. Teaching people how to live healthier is an integral part of the event, she said.
Dowell has been busy preparing instructors and getting helmets and bikes for the bike safety courses the event will feature for kids. In addition to these courses, a temporary skate park called Sk8 Zone will also be installed. Participants can learn how to skate safely, and the ramp is 50 feet long with two sides, so there is room for everyone, Dowell said. Bikes and skateboards will be available, but Dowell encourages anyone who wants to bring their own equipment to do so and join the fun.
“This is another way to get kids exercising and moving and thinking about health,” Dowell said.
Communications junior Hizamar Ramirez said she is interested in the sustainable sustenance portion of EcoFest.
“I try to be sustainable at home by recycling, going easy on my water usage and eating less meat,” Ramirez said. “I am excited to go to the vegetable gardening classes.”
Event-goers can also learn about other sustainability topics, including composting, drought-tolerant landscaping, air quality, native landscaping and ways to conserve water and energy at home.
“I always appreciate the demonstrations,” said Cathy O’Neal, Levitt Pavilion communications director. “I think those are great services for our community.”
The Levitt Pavilion is providing space for the event and live music, O’Neal said. Larry G(ee) and The Killdares are two bands scheduled to perform starting at 6:30 p.m.
Throughout the day, other artists will be on stage, including Kites and Boomerangs. In the afternoon, Spoonfed Tribe will walk around the crowd drumming, Dowell said, who searched for local talents to sing at the event.
Vendors promoting health and wellness will be at the event, including Bike Texas, Front and Center Cyclery , Alliance Skate Park and World of Wellness, a holistic health facility. Other vendors will include sustainable businesses, groups and services such as Thermal Windows and the North Central Chapter Native Plant Society of Texas. Nonprofits such as Amnesty International of Tarrant County and Friends of Arlington Animal Services also will be at the event.
Friends of Arlington Animal Service is a volunteer-run nonprofit group that works closely with Arlington’s animal shelter. The group will be providing education about the city shelter animals, volunteering, spaying/neutering of pets and the importance of trap, neuter and return, of feral cats in the community, said Marnie Simmons, co-director of FAAS. Kittens will also be available for adoption at the event.
All the computers, fans and other equipment at vendors’ booths will be powered by solar power provided by a solar trailer on site, Dowell said. This year, Dowell is particularly excited about bounce houses being run completely on solar power provided by 1SolTech.
As in the past, free trees will be handed out at the start of the event, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dowell’s department was in charge of purchasing 1,500 small trees in bags and repotting them into cups with planting instructions. A dozen different varieties will be available. Last year, 1,000 trees were handed out within four hours. While participants may reserve one free tree per household, the availability of a specific type of tree is not guaranteed. Event-goers are encouraged to research the type of tree suitable for their needs and arrive early to ensure they get the tree they want.