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EcoFest rides green wave

KINGSTON — Stillwaters Environmental Center workers are recovering after one of their most enthusiastic EcoFest Earth Day celebrations yet. Saturday’s event centered around green living, preserving Mother Earth and the environment, and drew a crowd of about 500 people on a classic spring day in the Pacific Northwest — warm but overcast.

“This is the best EcoFest we’ve ever had,” said Stillwaters administrative director Naomi Maasberg. “Everything went so smoothly, and we had so many people who stayed all day and just had a great time.”

In its seventh year, the environmental center’s crew has enough experience with the event to determine what works and what doesn’t. As a result, the festival has grown with all of the attractions and booths epitomizing the true meaning of Earth Day.

This year’s event featured almost 40 vendors, entertainment from different groups including the Frog Chorus, Father Tim (Tim Iisetowanohpatakiiwa) from the Canadian Siksika Tribe and West Sound Wildlife Shelter’s 1-year-old great horned owl, which was new this year and popular with visitors.

“The owl was just gorgeous,” Maasberg said of the Bubo virginianus. “He was just watching people, looking at people. I was going to go over to him, but after talking with the trainer, decided not to because I was in my bear costume. He was definitely watching me. The owl was very suspicious of the bear costume, and when the eagle costume went by, he just about freaked out. He calmed right down once the eagle went away.”

The Kingston Farmers Market also celebrated its opening day of the season Saturday, welcoming local vendors and their wares back to Mike Wallace Memorial Park.

Though there wasn’t much produce available, several local farms, nurseries and residents were on hand selling starter plants and winter produce, as well as arts and crafts, said KFM manager Clint Dudley.

“Actually, it was great,” he said. “We had a pretty good forecast all week, which can make all the difference... We had a nice crowd and a bunch of vendors.”

The opening day of KFM also featured the musical talent of Locust Street Taxi, rocking the park and shoppers.

“They were jumping,” Dudley said.

The market also had a steady stream of children who were rewarded with seeds and a free pot of soil in which to grow them. Dudley said last week the market will most likely have a contest later in the season to see which children’s plants did well.

Kids also streamed through the Stillwaters celebration, enjoying the activities geared toward them, and the costumes the Stillwaters workers and volunteers wore.

“One of our biggest attractions for the children were big cardboard boxes,” Maasberg said. Before EcoFest, she went to an appliance store and got several refrigerator boxes. “The kids were in heaven playing in them. It shows that kids don’t have to have expensive toys to have fun.”

The Kingston Friends of the Library found its own slice of heaven during the event as well.

The group’s book sale brought in $1,697 for the KFOL general fund, said sale organizer Linda Morse. The funds will go toward a proposed library building at the Kingston Village Green.

“We’ve been saving quite a while to give a chunk of money to the cause,” she said. “This will help a lot, and our next book sale is in July.”

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