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Celebrating Earth Day the Kingston way

KINGSTON — The Little City by the Sea will be filled with a plethora of Earth Day events next weekend, from learning about organic lifestyles and enjoying the work of local artists to eating the year’s first harvest of produce.

Kingston’s merchants, artists and non-profit groups put their green thumbs together this year to organize a weekend of activities that are family-friendly and culturally and environmentally educational. The anchoring event is Stillwaters Environmental Center’s ever-popular EcoFest, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16, which recognizes the upcoming international Earth Day (April 22) but is also an effort to educate residents on how to appreciate their natural surroundings.

Aside from more than 35 booths providing information on a variety of ways to promote sustainable living, EcoFest organizers are introducing a new twist this year — natural body care.

“It’s an area we haven’t covered very well before,” said Stillwaters administrative director Naomi Maasberg.

There will be information from a local naturopathic doctor and a line of body products will be available that is both natural and earth-friendly. There will also be a “green house” booth, where environmentally-friendly household items, such as food, baby products and pet products, will be displayed. Parts of the display, such as a basket of organic wines from Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery, will be raffled off.

Maasberg said visitors seem to enjoy two aspects of the event every year: the entertainment and getting their environmental queries answered. She noted that there is a variety of questions asked every year ranging from how to deal with septic tanks to the story on the latest on hybrid and electric cars.

“It’s just one way of good transportation in the future,” Maasberg said. “The electric cars blow me away now.”

She hopes visitors walk away from the event with the energy to want to help Mother Earth.

Protecting the environment is “not just a fringy thing,” she said. “It’s getting very mainline and that’s a positive thing.”

In downtown, the Kingston Revitalization Association’s first art walk will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Artists will show their works in the former Kingston Nautical Supply location on State Route 104, as well in shops around town.

“It’s a chance for local artists to be gathered together in actual downtown Kingston and for family and kids,” said KRA member Sally Christy.

However, it’s an experiment, too.

“The goal: to ultimately have a gallery that is open regularly in Kingston,” she explained. “This is just the first attempt to sort of get that idea out there.”

Another first for the town is the early opening of the Kingston Farmers’ Market. Typically, the market doesn’t open until May, but market organizers and vendors wanted to get an early start this year at their usual location, Mike Wallace Memorial Park, said market manager Clint Dudley.

Local musician Bob Landis will be performing folk tunes and Paula Listle from the Kingston Worm Farm will be displaying a big bucket of worms and explaining why they are important to the earth, said market president Cindi Dudley.

“We’re hoping for a real good showing of our vendors,” she said. “Hopefully, (we’ll) get a lot of produce and plants.”

Finally, the downtown merchants will be contributing to the Earth-themed weekend by hosting artists for the art walk and donating 5 percent of the day’s proceeds to a good cause.

“It’s a great day to go shopping in Kingston because a portion of their purchase will go to Stillwaters,” said organizer Stephanie Stebbing.

As for parking awnd getting around to the various events, there will be a hay wagon, a Kitsap Transit van and the blue Stillwaters van, all clearly marked, shutting people between destinations. Parking will be available at Gordon Elementary and Bayside Community Church.

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