Celebrating Earth Day in Charlottesville

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Shenandoah National Park visitors get in free from April 21 to 29 in honor of Earth Day. (Jim West/Zuma Press) 

Earth Day is approaching, and there’s a host of celebrations and events planned in the city and beyond to mark the occasion.

Earth Day happens to fall on the second day of National Park Week, and in celebration, Shenandoah National Park is offering free admission April 21 to 29. The park’s entrance fee is usually $15 per private vehicle, but outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the park for free during the Earth Day weekend and following week. On Saturday, to kick off the week and recognize National Junior Ranger Day, Shenandoah National Park will host a day of activities for kids and their families, with Junior Ranger certificates and patches presented to participants.

On Sunday, the Main Street Arena will be bustling with Eco Fair exhibits from noon to 6pm. Bellair Farm CSA, Rebecca’s Natural Food, and Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build are among the exhibitors that will showcase their sustainable products and services. The fair will also include local food and beverage vendors, face painting for kids, and local music from Overdog, Lulu and the Virginia Creepers, and Positive Collective. New to the fair this year is the Book Swap, a table sponsored by local bookstores where fairgoers can swap one environmentally themed book for another—fiction and non-fiction.

As part of the Eco Fair on Sunday, Bike Charlottesville is hosting its annual Children’s Bicycle Rodeo from 1 to 3pm at the Lexis Nexis parking deck. Children ages 6 to 12 will decorate helmets with reflective stickers, practice biking drills that teach basic road safety, and learn to check their air, brakes and chains. Community Bikes will teach the kids to make smoothies using a bike-powered blender, and participants will receive a bike safety certificate once they complete the course. Bicycle Rodeo committee member Shell Stern said the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation has hosted the rodeo for 10 years, giving children the chance to develop valuable skills and confidence to ride in their neighborhoods.

Cycle Systems, one of the largest recyclers in the region, is celebrating Earth Day by hosting an e-scrap recycling event at John Paul Jones Arena from 9am to 3pm Saturday. Cycle Systems will be accepting electronics of all kinds, from keyboards and cell phones to blenders and hand drills. Discarded electronics can be environmentally harmful if not recycled properly, and Cycle Systems is accepting more of these items than ever as part of the company’s Supporting Green initiative.

To inspire both creativity and sustainability, McGuffey Art Center is hosting a free Earth Day event for kids on Saturday from 1 to 4pm in the Starnes classroom. Children will use found items and recyclable objects like bottle caps, newspapers and scraps of plastic to create their own individual, original works of art. They will also join in creating a large, collaborative piece of art that will later be on display at McGuffey.

James Farmer, author of A Time to Plant: Southern-Style Garden Living, will be at the Clifton Inn on Sunday to kick off Virginia Historic Garden Week with a special garden party and book signing. Farmer, a Georgia native with an organic upbringing who melds gardening, cooking, decorating, and entertaining into a creative, natural lifestyle, offers a young, fresh voice to the world of gardening, and will be available for a book signing beginning at 6pm. Following the signing and cocktails, guests will enjoy a “garden inspired” dinner of local foods crafted by Clifton’s executive chef Tucker Yoder.

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