by JB Brayfindley
Saturday, April 18th, 2020 from 11 am to 5 pm is the 14th year of Redding’s Whole Earth and Watershed Festival, an annual community-wide celebration of Earth Day featuring activities, exhibits, live music, films, artists, and local food. More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the event which boasts 160 exhibits by businesses, non-profits, government agencies, community groups, local artists, and educational organizations. The event will be held at Redding City Hall and Sculpture Park, 777 Cypress Avenue in Redding. Admission is free.
The Festival will join the global celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with The Earth Day Pavilion, a special interactive exhibit on the innovative and positive projects currently planned or underway in the north state region to lower CO2 emissions.
“This annual event demonstrates our commitment as individuals and as a community to work together for the health and livability of the north state region and our planet,” said Peggy Rebol, director of ministry at First United Methodist church (FUMC) in Redding, California. Rebol oversees the event which started as an outreach of FUMC but has become its own organization with community partners who plan and manage the event each year.
“Each year, we actively seek new exhibitors from the north state region and beyond to give attendees the broadest possible exposure to innovative ideas and products,” said Rebol. She remembers when the event was birthed in 2006 in the parking lot at FUMC.
“At the time, we had a group of members here working on environmental issues. They had book studies, showed films,” said Rebol. “And when they heard there would be no Earth Day celebration in Redding that year—they decided to host one right here in our own parking lot.” It began with 15 exhibitors and about 350 attendees.
“It was obvious right away that we needed to continue this, to reach out to more exhibitors and to get out of our parking lot!” Rebol added. So, in 2007 with then pastor Rev. Marty Murdock, Rebol and other interested members, the church got to work inventing the festival idea.
Each year, FUMC has had a booth at the event and hosted a special section called, “Whole Earth Children Zone” for children up to 7 years old and their families with a dozen various interactive and educational activities.
Some 2020 highlights include: a “Groundwater” workshop and Community Film Festival; “Music Festival within the Festival” with nationally touring headliner bands as well as critically acclaimed local musicians; an “Eco Fashion Show” showcasing local designers in the categories of “upcycling” and “trash-ion;” hands on STEM+Arts activities for kids and teens in the S.T.E.A.M Tents; a climbing wall open to all ages; a “Zorb” challenge course; a petting zoo; “Bus-Ta-Move” exhibit showing new transit options; and, the “Whole Earth Walk-About” where you get the chance to win prizes just by walking around. Free RABA shuttle from the downtown terminal and City Hall runs all day.
“It’s always born out of somebody’s passion to do something,” noted Rebol reflecting on why the festival got started and the impact FUMC continues to make on the community and world in other ways. Several other ministries the church initiated that she listed included the non-profit Wesley Neighborhood, 19 low income housing units that FUMC started in order to help restore the Garden Tract neighborhood surrounding the church; Genocide No More-Save Darfur group that raises awareness of the needs of Darfur, Sudan through musical events, letter writing and other campaigns; and, Inclusive Ministries, a monthly gathering for meals and fellowship with adults with developmental or mental health issues.
“We always have a group of people here in FUMC that want to make our community better,” summed up Rebol. “That is what attracted me to the church some 19 years ago.”
For more information on the festival, contact Peggy Rebol at 530-243-2403.
Website: http://wholeearthandwatershedfestival.org Facebook: The Whole Earth and Watershed Festival Twitter: @ReddingWEWF or visit the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/653460615191484/