Indianapolis’ Earth Day Festival: A Long Standing Tradition

Indianapolis Earth DayEarth Day is an important American holiday that marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. The hippie and flower –child culture of the 1960’s was at its high point in 1970’s. When most people think of hippies and flower children they often associate them with drugs and tree huggers.

Yet not everyone who cares about the environment is a tree hugger, hippie or flower child. The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970 and was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 1969, Senator Nelson had proposed a national observance that would teach the public about environmental issues. The first Earth Day was such a huge success that Senator Nelson wrote in his May 1970 Senate Newsletter, “A new movement had begun, and uncounted millions—students, laborers, farmers, housewives, politicians, professional people, liberals and conservatives—who might have found it difficult to find common agreement on any other subject, were gathering together in a massive educational effort to talk about survival and the quality of survival in a world they all share.” The Indianapolis Earth Day Festival was first organized in 1990 on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day and celebrated downtown. Earth Day Indy, a nonprofit organization, was established soon afterwards to continue the event on a state level annually. Earth Day Indy is comprised of twelve members, including their officers. Their mission is to “host a major festival each April to promote environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and sustainable living.” Earth Day Indy depends upon volunteers to help spread the world and work the Earth Day event. They also accept donations. Sponsors help to fund the Earth Day Festival. The Earth Day Festival is a wonderful event for the entire family located at the White River State Park. The day long celebration features a variety of events each year depending upon whom the sponsors are. This year, the festival took place on April 26 from 11am to 4pm. There were over 130 environmental and conservation exhibits. Some of the sponsors present included Allison Transmissions, Indianapolis Zoo, Meijers, Honda and Sierra Club. Several exhibitors handed out seeds and trees to anyone who wanted them for their garden. Children could plant popcorn in cow pots. NASA brought an astronaut’s glove and helmet for anyone to try on. Their exhibit also included a moon rock you could touch. Inside their exhibit you could feel the vibration of a rocket heading off into space. Music lovers could listen to free concerts by local bands while eating some of the wonderful food from the food trucks. The Earth Day Festival in Indianapolis is unlike any other Earth Day celebration. I look forward to going back next year.