By Sheryl Roadcap
TROY — The community came out to celebrate the Earth on last sunny, yet brisk and windy Saturday afternoon on Earth Day, April 22, at the Hug The Earth Festival. The festival was held at the Miami County Park District’s Lost Creek Reserve on state Route 41 in Troy.
The public was welcomed to celebrate this Earth Day at the Lost Creek Reserve for the second year in a row; however the Hug The Earth festival is in its 27th year, confirmed Cinda Hanbuch-Pinkerton, Miami County Park District education director. The festival was previouly held at Stillwater Prairie, in Covington, but was moved to Lost Creek Reserve as it provides more room for parking for a public festival.
“Everywhere I go, I pick up ideas — you know, what would kids love to do? Let’s play in the corn, let’s climb trees, let’s have a butterfly sit in our hand. Just inspire people to have fun outside. And that way if they love the Earth, and they have fun, they are going to love our environment and will want to take care of it. And that is one of our goals — we want to grow stewards of our planet Earth, and in order to do that, you gotta love it first. So how better to love it than to experience it and be involved in it and be connected to it,” Hanbuch-Pinkerton said.
Hundreds of people were able to participate in numerous activities, including, enjoying the music of the Banana Slug String Band located in the concert tent.
The Banana Slug String Band is a children’s band based out of Santa Cruz, California, and are self-described as “environmental educators,” according to the band’s website. They focus on live performances at schools assemblies and music festivals. Saturday, festival-goers were able to sit down and hear music that was on-par with the animals brought in by the Cincinnati Zoo and the Five Rivers MetroParks, of Dayton. Cincinnati Zookeepers introduced animals from around the world to onlookers, such as penguins, while the band played music, like a penguin song, for example, to go along with whichever animal was being introduced. Five Rivers MetroParks representatives brought in wildlife native to Ohio, during a later show in the day, and then band again played music/songs to go along with the animals/wildlife being displayed.
Other events or zones celebrating the day included:
• A space zone, which was an area where kids could “shoot rockets” and play among “working worlds.” The working worlds were several large, child-size balls that were made to look like Earth or other worlds for kids to bounce around and play.
• Awesome animals, such as bees, seed bombs, a butterfly house, “It’s a Bug’s World,” and farm animals from Honey Hill Farm Mobile Petting Zoo & Pony Rides. The petting zoo consisted of rabbits, ducks, chickens, miniature horses, goats and lamas. The zone also had a station for candle dipping, where little ones could make a candle on a wick.
• Whimsical woodland, which included fairy/gnome homes and stick forts, a natural play area and storybook and superhero trails.
• A plant play area. This zone contained a corn pit, straw jump and maze and toys from trees.
• Geology zone for pet rock painting and a spot to dig stones and bones.
• A food forest of food trucks from the following businesses, Bella Sorella Pizza Co., Cumberland Kettle Corn, Homestead Spud, Lona Ice and Susie’s Big Dipper.
• Additional activities: A Caterpillar train ride to the wildlife safari, conservation booths, face painting, a lullaby lounge for baby care and nature art.
There was an information booth along side Lost Creek Reserve’s partner’s booth, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, where questions could be answered and a scavenger hunt sheet could be obtained. People who completed the sheet after successfully finding 10 “WOW” facts scattered throughout the festival could register to win one of three prizes given out during a drawing at the end of the day. The festival ended at 5 p.m.
Rowan Mullen, 6, daughter of Nick and Jill Mullen, of Tipp City, said her favorite event was candle dipping.
“It was cool (petting the animals). The bunnies was my favorite; I want to go pet them again,” she said.
Karson Rupert, 5, son of Taylor Entingh, and Zachary Rupert, of West Milton, showed off his newly made Kid’s ID Print card, made by the sheriff’s office. Both he and his shy 3-year-old brother Kolton Rupert had one made.
“My favorite thing was shooting the rocket” Karson said with a newly made paper rocket in his hand. When asked if the rocket went very high in the air, he shook his head and said,”No!” His parents and others around him laughed.
Children of Miami County schools K-fifth grade will visit Miami County Park District’s Lost Creek Reserve on Thursday, April 27, to experience the festival for themselves without the public present.
“This year is really special too for the kids because this year there is rock climbing and ziplining,” said Amanda Smith, marketing administrator with Miami County Park District.