Free event starts 10 a.m. Saturday, April 20, at MH Community Center

By Marty Cheek

The future of our children and the planet they will inherit depends on the actions we take today. With this in mind, the city of Morgan Hill and the local branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) invite South Valley families to attend the third annual Earth Day Festival.

The free event will be open to all from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 20 at the Community and Cultural Center in downtown Morgan Hill. Attendees can learn about the importance of protecting the environment and ensuring a healthy, sustainable world for generations to come.

Through fun activities, educational exhibits, and community engagement, the festival aims to inspire young and old alike to become stewards of the Earth and champions for a greener tomorrow.

It especially aims to educate families with young children about the importance of protecting our planet from industrial exploitation and pollution.

This year marks the first time AAUW and the city of Morgan Hill have worked closely together to organize the Earth Day celebration, said Nancy Lowe, a member of AAUW’s Climate Education and Action Committee.

“It’s been a very good collaboration because the city has a lot of wonderful programs to help the environment,” she said.

The festival promises to be the biggest one yet, she said. It offers a wide range of activities and exhibits designed to entertain and educate young attendees including face painting and games focusing on ecological issues.

“There’s going to be a lot of fun things for everybody and a lot of education,” Lowe said. “Education is the main thing, but we want to have fun doing it.”

One of the new additions to the festival is a bike clinic hosted by Bike Therapy, a downtown Morgan Hill shop. Bicycle experts will offer basic repairs and consultations to encourage the use of bicycles as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

“The idea is we want to get butts on bikes because that helps reduce the use of fossil fuels,” Lowe said. “It’s more Earth friendly to use a bike, and it’s also healthier for you.”

Other highlights include the South Valley Fleurs Plant Sale (starting at 9 a.m.) as well as live music performances by the Foggy Memory Band and Live Oak High School students performing jazz and other music.

Electric vehicles will be displayed by The Ford Store of Morgan Hill and Tesla of Gilroy. There will also be exhibits by Silicon Valley Clean Energy, the Filler Up Shop, and the Morgan Hill Community Garden for visitors to learn about options to protect our planet.

For people looking for nature trails to hike into the local environment, volunteers with the Pine Ridge Association will encourage people to discover the beauty of the Henry W. Coe State Park ranch land wilderness east of Gilroy. Open Space Authority representatives will provide information and guidance in exploring its lands.

Wildlife education and the chance  to see birds and other wild animals up-close will be provided by the South Valley nonprofit Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center. A popular beehive apiary exhibit will return in collaboration with the local 4H group.

CalFire firefighters will also be present to discuss the increasing importance of wildfire prevention and management in the face of climate change.

“CalFire responds to problems in the wildlands, and that protects the environment,” Lowe noted. “One of the things that we have to do more because of the bad effects of climate change is deal with wildfires.”

Attendees will have the chance to win door prizes from various organizations, with tickets given out to everyone who visits the festival.

The Open Space Authority will be offering a set of four posters featuring artistic interpretations of the local landscape,

The festival also aims to raise awareness about the importance of advocacy in combating climate change. The Citizens Climate Lobby will be present to discuss the role of legislation in addressing environmental issues.

“One of the ways to really make change is to get laws changed,” Lowe said. “That’s one of the ways they’re trying to combat the climate change problem, which is important for the survival of the Earth. We can’t do it all by recycling and riding our bikes.”

On the 55th anniversary of Earth Day, this festival serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to protect our planet for future generations, Lowe said

“Some of the members are passionate about fighting climate change and protecting the environment,” she said, adding her own kids and grandkids are a driving force behind her involvement, as she is concerned about the quality of their lives and the lives of all children in the future.