Locals beat the EcoFest drum to honor and educate

KINGSTON — This year’s EcoFest at Stillwaters will be packed with so much information on how to help preserve Mother Nature, it will be difficult to walk away without learning at least a couple of facts. With more than 40 booths and displays expected to be stocked with information on everything from local trails to hybrid cars, there will be something to meet everyone’s environmental interests.

“It is definitely an education event,” said event organizer and Stillwaters administrative director Naomi Maasberg about the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 event. “I’m as excited as all get out that we have some 45 booths and displays.”

Besides the abundance of information, Maasberg said she is also hyped about the long list of diverse entertainment that will be on stage Saturday.

One particular event Maasberg encourages attendees to watch is the 2 p.m. performance of the Haidalaas, a tribal dance group of 24 Haida dancers and drummers who will perform for an hour and end with a tale by storyteller Fred Lareth of Hydaburg, Alaska.

“We decided to invite them to create more cultural diversity,” Maasberg said, recalling when the Makah Tribe performed several years ago during EcoFest. “Last year, we didn’t have any and kind of missed it.”

There will also be the annual “Wild in the Watershed Species Parade” at 1 p.m. in which visitors will be encouraged to strut through the wildlife preserve in their homemade costumes representing native plants and animals. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes in all age ranges.

Virginia Cowling, a local environmentalist known for her conservation efforts, will be honored with The Mother Earth Award from West Sound Conservation, Maasberg said. U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee is expected to attend and bestow Cowling the honor.

There will also be birding walks, farm tours, food and crafts and activities for kids. Maasberg asks that residents keep their animals at home, as Stillwaters is a wildlife preserve.

Maasberg said her favorite part of the event will not just be the entertainment or education, but how it will serve as a unifier.

“It not only brings together the people in the community to participate but it also brings together (people) who are doing the booths,” Maasberg said. “So, it’s a chance for the environmentalists or environmental agencies to come together and they all talk and it’s like a gathering for them, too.”

Parking for the event won’t be a problem as space will be available up the street at Gordon Elementary School, where the Kingston Farmer’s Market will also be holding its Special Spring Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking will be also be available at Bayside Community Church. A hay wagon shuttle will transport people from both sites to EcoFest.

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