Gatlinburg festival celebrates Earth Day

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 11:21 PM

It’s Earth Week in Gatlinburg, and that means environmentally focused celebrations and events each day, including an Earth Day Festival this Thursday at Mynatt Park.

The sixth annual festival, sponsored by the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation, runs from 3-7 p.m. and includes games, food, crafts, live music and more.

“We want everyone to have fun, but we also want to create awareness for Earth Day and show people ways that they can live greener lives and reduce their impact on the environment,” event organizer Jennifer Burke said. “We want to create better stewards of the earth.”

The event’s live entertainment will include Boogertown Gap, playing from 3-4 p.m., and Tuatha Dea, which specializes in drum circles.

“Tuatha Dea will be neat because it’s interactive and they get the audience involved,” Burke said. “That will be great for kids.”

In addition to the live entertainment, motivational speaker Barry Mitchell will be doing a family friendly “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” program, and Christine Hoyer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park volunteer coordinator, will be giving a “Leave No Trace” presentation.

“‘Leave No Trace’ is about outdoor ethics, basically about leaving nothing behind when you enjoy the wilderness,” Burke said.

The festival is free to attend, but Burke suggested visitors bring some money.

“Cabin Cafe is serving food for $5 a plate, and Ben and Jerry’s will have ice cream for $1 per scoop,” Burke said.

Earth Week T-shirts, designed by Heather Lowe of Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, will also be for sale at the festival.

Over 30 different exhibitors and vendors will set up at the festival, offering a wide variety of crafts and entertainment.

“We have more exhibitors and vendors this year,” Burke said. “It’s a little bigger and better. We’re hoping it will grow bigger each year, hoping a lot of people will come and have a good time.”

Burke also emphasized that the festival is a zero-waste event.

“All food is served on Frisbees that people can take home, and everything is finger food, so there will be no utensils,” Burke said. “We’re trying to make it a zero-waste event.”

For more information on the festival, as well as other Earth Week events, visit gatlinburg.com/events.

rhargett@themountainpress.com