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November 28, 2022

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Local organizations host River Falls first Earth Fest

April 22, 2022

Sunday, April 24, from 2 - 5 p.m. is scheduled to be the first annual Earth Fest held at Glen Park, where over 45 local organizations will gather to promote sustainability with live music, free food, activities, free well-water testing, and a clothing swap. April is Earth Month, and the City of River Falls has been hosting a series of events including a Sustainability Speaker Series about the impacts climate change has on mental health and a Bluegrass Festival the weekend of the 22nd. 

The first 500 people in attendance will go home with a free tree sapling, and those who used sustainable transportation to get to Glen Park (by walking, biking, or carpooling), received a free LED lightbulb. This event will be hosted by the City of River Falls, UW-River Falls, River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, Hope for Creation, and the School District of River Falls. 

Mark Klapatch-Mathias is on the leadership team for Hope for Creation and is the co-chair for Earth Fest, and played an essential role in making this event a reality. 

The event was funded entirely by grants and donations. Hope for Creation, which is a group made up of local churches, UWRF, and the City of River Falls, that have the goal of advancing sustainability, was largely responsible for making Earth Fest possible. Klapatch-Mathais stated, “We wanted there to be a large community event to celebrate sustainability; where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we want to go.”

A pledge-signing will take place where representatives from CVTC, UWRF, the City of River Falls, and the River Falls School District agreed to make more sustainable efforts in the River Falls community. Hope For Creation also has a pledge that individuals can sign as well. Klapatch-Mathias said, “We’re really hoping to instill some sense of ownership for sustainability at the individual level, businesses, organizations, churches, and also the broader, larger entities.” There will also be a recognition for COVID heroes/heroines that thanked them for their help and hard work. 

The bands that are set to perform included Chris Silver, the Barley Jacks, the River Falls High School Instrumental Acapella group, and the UW-River Falls Pep Band. Locally sourced foods will be served, including impossible burger sliders, attendees can help plant trees, and electric vehicles will be on display. Some family activities offered will include turning t-shirts into DIY bags, mini-golf, and a petting zoo. 

The wide variety of organizations that will participate include some UWRF organizations, like the Bee Club and the Green Team, and community and regional organizations that actively participate in promoting sustainability. St. Croix County is offering free nitrate testing for those who provided a sample of their well water. The UWRF Green Team, Our Neighbors Place, and Wiley’s Wardrobe will host a clothing swap, where people can bring an item of clothing in exchange for something new. Clothes left after the event will be donated to Our Neighbors Place and Wiley’s Wardrobe. Alina Health will also be in attendance to provide bikes to kids through their Free Bikes for Kids program. 

There is hope that this will become an annual event, but further discussion is needed. 

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