Earth Fest brings tunes to campus

From Woodstock to Lollapalooza, outdoor music festivals are a rite of passage for college students.

The Environmental Awareness Organization will host its own music festival, Earth Fest March 31.

Donnie Addison, EAO advisor, has worked with the group since he joined as a student in 2001. Earth Fest has been held for 22 years.

"EAO was the first environmental group on campus," Aldridge said. "They initially started Earth Fest as an opportunity to bring people together around Earth Day and to get people outside. It has educational aspects. We bring vendors and other organizations out there. They set up booths and talk about what their different groups do."

From the early nineties to mid-2000s, Earth Fest was off-campus, Addison said. In 2004, the group brought Earth Fest to campus and the event has been held at the arboretum since.

"It's kind of unique," Addison said. "UPC has it's concert and WEGL has Battle of the Bands, but other than that it's really the only multi-band music festival that's outside at the University. It's focused on music and we do have vendors and try to have speakers get up and talk about environmental issues."

Thirteen local bands will play for free throughout the day.

"This year we're planning on having three different stages of music," said Stephanie Ard, vice president of EAO and junior in hotel and restaurant management. "The first band goes on at 10 a.m. and the last band goes on at 8, but they'll probably play for a little bit."

In the past, Earth Fest has been a fundraiser for the Environmental Awareness Organization. Ard said this year the event will be a benefit concert.

"This year the event is donating a portion of the sales of our T-shirts and food to the Alabama Water Watch," Addison said. "It is a local nonprofit volunteer organization that focuses on water quality and engaging citizens to become active in monitoring their local waterways and lakes. They've recently gone through some budget cuts and are financially restructuring and we wanted to help with that."

Rob Davis, junior in interdisciplinary studies, serves as Earth Fest coordinator and said the biggest obstacle he faced while planning the event was finding a free Saturday in the spring.

"We tried to work with the 280 Boogie and the Alpha Psi rodeo," Davis said. "We're having it on March 31 this year solely due to the fact that the first weekend is April, the second weekend is A-day. We try to fit this into all the outdoor spring events in April so we're doing it a little bit earlier than usual."

Other changes this year include an effort to make Earth Fest more sustainable.

"Our aim is to recycle and compost all the waste from the event and try to throw away as little as possible," Ard said. "This is the first year we've tried it, but its another thing we're trying to do to limit how much waste is generated from the event."

Addison said the number of attendees has been on the rise. This year they have added more games, vendors and food.

"There are going to be a lot of good bands there and I love seeing the arboretum in full bloom," Davis said. "Earth Fest is my favorite day of the year."

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