Celebrate the Earth at Earthfest

Earthfest is Sunday, April 28, from noon to 4 p.m. in the Thornden Park Amphitheater. The sustainability-themed music and arts festival celebrates Earth Day, sustainability on the Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) campuses, and in the local community.

A pre-yoga session starts at 11:30 a.m., hosted by Rebecca Spataro-Kerns Rebel Roots Yoga.

The festival is sponsored by Syracuse University Sustainability Management, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Students of Sustainability (SOS), with the support of Syracuse Students for Change, Stella High School and SUNY-ESF.

This year’s Earthfest continues the tradition to celebrate all the ways the local communities keep Central New York sustainable and environmentally sound. As in past years, all the music groups and speakers have donated their time. Entry to the festival is free, and food is available for purchase.

“Earthfest is about celebrating our planet. As the fight to protect and save our environment grows, we must take time to reflect and connect,” says Ethan Thompson, NYPIRG project coordinator. “This annual event brings our community together with music, speakers, activism and local food trucks all in the name of environmental justice and sustainability. It has something for everyone!”

The event features local musicians, artists, community and student organizations, prominent speakers, local vendors and food trucks.

The day’s keynote speaker, at 12:45 p.m., is Sandy Bigtree, Bear Clan, a citizen of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. She is a founding board member of the Indigenous Values Initiative, which fosters collaborative work between the academic/nonacademic community and the Haudenosaunee, promoting their message of peace that was brought to Onondaga Lake thousands of years ago—a message that influenced, and continues to influence, American democracy, the women’s rights movement, and the environmental sustainability and justice movements.

Other speakers include Blair Horner, NYPIRG executive director; New York State Sen. Rachel May, chair of the Committee on Aging and chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources; and ESF Assistant Professor Brian Leydet; Lindsay Speer of the HeatSmart campaign; and Syeisha Byrd G’12, director of community engagement for Hendricks Chapel.

Maggie Dickson ’19 from Orange Music Group—a Syracuse University student organization that works on producing, marketing and branding for local artists—is the stage manager. Bands performing are Bike Lanes on Euclid (all SUNY-ESF students), Colleen Kattau G’92 and Dos XX, Charlie Burg ’20, Sundrop Rise, Cosmatic and The Bad Mama’s Blues.

“As one of the event planners for Earthfest, it is humbling to see the Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF and surrounding communities come together to celebrate the Earth in a way that is unique to our community,” says Meg Lowe, sustainability coordinator for Syracuse University Sustainability Management. “Having speakers like Sandy Bigtree and Sen. Rachel May highlights the importance of preserving our world for future generations from varying perspectives. The event also brings light to important topics surrounding sustainability like plastic usage, climate change and food inequality. This year, attendees are also being encouraged to donate non-perishable items to the Syracuse University food pantry.”

Attendees are asked to make a donation at the festival of a nonperishable item. Boxes will be placed around the amphitheater or donations may be made at the food pantry table. In addition, all vendors have donated about $1,000 to Syracuse Grows, a grassroots network that cultivates food justice through advocacy, education and resources in support of urban food production.

The two student organizations co-sponsoring the event will have informational tables for attendants to learn more about their organizations. About 25 different organizations will promote environmental issues and activism, and sell environmental art, jewelry and local food items.

“Earthfest is meant to bring people all of identities and backgrounds together to celebrate our common goals of sustainable practices and love for our planet. We hope that this event can encourage community ties and educate us on ongoing social and environmental movements, igniting a spark in you,” says Shirley Dougherty, president of Students of Sustainability. “Most of all, we want everybody to feel engaged and welcome as they step into the festival knowing that those surrounding them are there to celebrate our Earth and environment. ”

Since Earthfest promotes sustainability, attendees are encouraged to bring any items they need, such as reusable water bottles. Vendors have been asked to use sustainable packaging and compostable food service products, including paper, compostable items or recyclable products. In addition, bins for compost, trash and recyclables will be readily available.