COLUMBIA — After the threat of rain canceled last week's Columbia Area Earth Day Festival, festival attendees had better luck on the rescheduled event Sunday. 

Cool spring air drifted through Elm Street as vendors set up their booths for the festival and smoke wafted from the food court along Seventh Street, where festivalgoers could purchase fried Oreos, cheeseburgers and bratwurst, among other dishes. 

The festival began at noon, but scatters of families, students and community members arrived earlier. Elm Street was inaccessible to cars during the festival.

Girls strolled the streets with purple-flowered wreaths decorating their hair. Representatives from area organizations handed fliers to festivalgoers who were able to browse more than 150 booths, many of which offered food or items to purchase.

West Middle School eighth-grader Katherine Neff and her mother, Sherrie Neff, were selling handmade recycled pop-tab bracelets, soda can safes and hanging planters as a fundraiser for their summer trip to Europe and future outdoor camping trips for Girl Scout Troop 30461.  They learned to make the bracelets after going to Savannah, Georgia, for the 100th Girl Scout Anniversary in 2012.

This was their second year participating in the festival.

“This is a great chance to meet people and see people you haven’t seen in years,” Katherine Neff said.

“It’s also a good way to get girls interested in Girl Scouts,” Sherrie Neff said. “It’s better for them to learn about it when they see it, rather than hear about it.”

Jeni Schierbecker of Summerfield Landscaping has participated in the festival for the past 15 years. Her stand featured a variety of perennials, herbs and vegetables such as hot peppers, basil, tomatoes and native Missouri wildflowers such as wild ginger and lily of the valley.

Schierbecker said she likes to educate others about what they can do to help the environment, including planting and taking care of plants. She said the most surprising thing she learns about others is how many don’t recycle.

“We live in a throw-away society,” Schierbecker said. She said she hopes people will learn to separate their trash and recycle when possible.

Natalia Prats is a Spanish teacher at the Language Tree Immersion School, which teaches French and Spanish to 2- through 6-year-old children. Prats said she is a conscious environmentalist and wants to educate children about caring for the Earth.

“Children should be conscious about culture as well as the environment,” Prats said. At her booth, children could make crafts out of plastic bottles and pipe cleaners.

Prats is also interested in renewable energy and food safety. She said she avoids genetically modified foods and pesticides and opts to buy organic produce or grow her own. Her garden includes asparagus, apples and strawberries.

Although dogs were not allowed at the festival, many attendees brought their pets and several booths featured other animals. The Raptor Rehabilitation Project brought owls, a falcon and a turkey vulture. Kittens were available for adoption at Boone County Animal Care.

The event also included music and games in Peace Park and live musical performances throughout the streets.

Supervising editor is Claire Boston.

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