By Kelly Burns, For The Miami Student
Miami students and Oxford residents alike gathered in Uptown Park on Saturday. Surrounded by green grass and blue skies, they celebrated Earth Day at the annual Earthfest.
Miami's chapter of the National Association for Environmental Professionals organized the event, but other Miami and Oxford organizations pitched in. The NAEP teamed up with GreenHawks, Miami University Conservation Team, the Environmental Appreciation Club, Green Oxford and several other groups to make Earthfest happen.
The event served to raise awareness about the environment and the preservation efforts of groups on campus and in Oxford.
President of the NAEP, Kathleen Jordan, and president of the EAC, Max Leveridge, worked with the Oxford community in their planning.
"You really have to work closely with the city because this isn't just a Miami event," Jordan said. "It's an Oxford event. It's a community event."
The planning of Earthfest is a year-round process for Jordan. The event is held every year but has had various meanings and locations. This year, Jordan and her organization decided to make the event more action-focused.
Like in years past, Earthfest included live music, games and a generally festive atmosphere. This year, however, a 5K race was introduced as well as a clean up project that took place after the event ended. The proceeds for the race were donated to Pacific Wild, an organization that works to preserve the environment, especially in Canada.
At the event, the mayor read the Earth Day proclamation, and organizations gave out information about their conservation efforts.
The event balanced both informing the public and maintaining a festive atmosphere.
"People come out, they learn, they celebrate the earth and they have a good time," Jordan said.
Local businesses donated gift cards, coupons, a karaoke machine and other items to be raffled off at the event. Families played cornhole in the park and visited the Farmers' Market in the morning. There was live music and a "junk band," whose instruments were made of recycled goods.
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Max Leveridge, president of the Environmental Appreciation Club, was thrilled to be involved with the event. He worked with local businesses and on-campus clubs to secure donations and participants for the event.
"I always wanted to do something like this at home, but I never had the resources," he said. "Then I found out about this and jumped on it."
Leveridge did not expect the event to be as successful as it was.
"I expected it to be like a few people from the Farmers' Market who wandered over, but there were actually people who came out for this," he said.
Families came out with their children, and a good amount of students stopped by.
First-years Jessica Statler and Courtney Kemper were amazed when they attended their first Earthfest.
"I wasn't sure what it was because I hadn't really heard about it," Statler said. "But I thought that if 'fest' was in the name, it must be fun."
She enjoyed the energy of the crowd and the relatively laid back attitude that they displayed.
"It wasn't obnoxious, like shoving down people's throats that we need to save the earth," Statler said. "It was more chill, like everyone got together to just celebrate the earth."
Kemper could feel the atmosphere at the event from down the block.
"I liked how being Uptown had a feel-good vibe radiating from the people and the music involved with EarthFest," she said.
The people who worked so hard to make Earthfest happen could not have asked for a better day for the event.
Instead of the bitter cold that occupied Oxford only a few weeks ago, the event was held in 70-degree weather with the sun shining. The weather encouraged Oxford residents and Miami students alike to come out and celebrate the earth together
Leveridge felt this sense of unity during this year's Earthfest.
"I really enjoyed this event because it gave the sense of community that this college town is all about," he said.