Earth Day festival greeted by warm weather, eager Columbia residents

Sunday, April 21, 2013 | 7:12 p.m. CDT; updated 8:01 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 21, 2013
Local musician Violet Vonder Haar plays guitar with her band, Zorya, during the Columbia Area Earth Day Festival on Sunday in Peace Park. More than a dozen local musicians and bands performed at the annual event.

COLUMBIA — A little girl tripped as she ran down Elm Street during the Columbia Area Earth Day Festival on Sunday afternoon.

A small potted plant flew out of her hands onto the pavement, but she jumped up to her feet almost as quick as she fell.


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"I lost my plant!" she shrieked. "I lost my plant!"

A young man brought over the plant that lay near her on the ground. Her eyes lit up when she saw it.

"Don't worry about it," he said. "Just give me a high five."

Sunday's gathering brought together a mix of hundreds of Columbia residents to celebrate Columbia's 43rd Earth Day festival. Men, women and children perused more than 180 booths with offerings including funnel cakes, seedlings, geodes and crafts and received general information about the environment and sustainability. Others listened and watched performances on a stage set up in Peace Park.

Brad Jacobson was sitting with Seon "Sonny" Ju Jung in the park, talking as young performers from Dancearts of Columbia danced onstage.

Jung, who is from South Korea, has been in Columbia studying education at MU for two months, and will be here for two more. This is the first Earth Day she's witnessed. Jacobson works with the MU Asian Affairs Center, and thought Jung would be interested in experiencing Earth Day in Columbia.

"It's a beautiful day for it," Jung said. "And nothing like this ever happened in South Korea. It's very new to me."

John Benke headed the "Crack'n Geodes" booths at the event, where he sells and educates people about geodes, which are rock formations with colored crystals inside. He's not a geologist; he's just been interested in geodes since childhood. He hopes to educate people about them through events like Earth Day.

"It's nice to sell the geodes," Benke said. "But it's not about the business. It's also about just telling people about it. People have been really receptive to just learning about things here, and that's really nice."

Across the street and into the park, children jumped from rocks into the creek that runs through Peace Park.

Gena Williamson and her daughter, Rhiannon, 7, were among the families celebrating Earth Day and reveling in the partly sunny spring day that warmed to 66 in the afternoon.

Williamson, who works at the MU Women's and Children's Hospital, came to the event this year for the first time. She usually works nights, and despite her shift Sunday night, she decided to take her daughter to the event.

"She was the one who kept pushing it," Williamson said. "She kept saying all week, 'Let's go to the Earth Day thing! Let's go to Earth Day.' I couldn't really say no."

Rhiannon jumped around the creek, her pants rolled up above her knees. Other children leaped through the water, too.

"It's really just nice to be outside," Williamson said. "It doesn't even matter what the event is. Just as long as it's outside."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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Chris Cady April 22, 2013 | 12:47 p.m.

Yep, the first thing I think of when saving the planet: Funnel Cakes. Can't do it without Funnel Cakes. :-]

Just havin' a little fun, folks. Hope everyone enjoyed the day.

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