Kicking Off 25 Years of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival!

by Jeanette Reynolds;
Programs and Communication Director; St. Louis Earth Day

On January 14th, we kicked off the 25th year of Earth Day in St. Louis with a Founders Day celebration where stakeholders shared their vision for the future of the organization and we honored those who have contributed toward making the St. Louis Earth Day organization what it is today.

It’s been 25 years since the first annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival was held. The 1989 Festival, which was the first annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival, was held in Creve Coeur Park. Although a celebration was held in 1980 on the Arch Grounds for the 10-year anniversary of the first national Earth Day, the 1989 community-organized event is recognized as the beginning of our organization’s Festival history.

From grassroots origins, created by many of the leaders who are still active in the local sustainability scene today, St. Louis Earth Day has grown to host one of the oldest and largest Earth Day celebrations in the nation and provides year-round programming to support environmental sustainability in the region.

The Founders Day event brought together many of these “movers and shakers” whose histories are intertwined with the Festival and the organization. Some of the VIPs that were present included Matt Diller of The College School, Louise Bradshaw of St. Louis Zoo, and Alex Bornstein (who served on the National Earth Day Board from 1997-2001) – all early forces behind the organization of the first Earth Day Festivals, and Karla Wilson of EcoWorks Unlimited who was the first Executive Director of St. Louis Earth Day the organization.

Four St. Louis Earth Day Board of Directors members were also recognized for outstanding service to the organization, each serving ten or more years – David Wilson, Tracy Boaz, Fred Ricks and Lori Strawbridge. St. Louis Earth Day also announced the creation of an endowment for the St. Louis organization, thanks to the support of an anonymous donor.

The focus of the event was a giant timeline where guests added memories from earlier celebrations. As Matt Diller shared, “It was the beginning of so many lasting relationships and such tradition, and became the most important fundraiser of the year for dozens of small groups. Police were really surprised because traffic was causing a jam out on the highway and they just did not understand what all the fuss was about. It was when apartheid fell in South Africa, Chinese students fought for democracy in Tiananmen Square, Ceausescu fell in Romania, and sadly the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened – we all somehow knew it was a time for change.”

On Sunday, April 27, 2014, the tradition continues with the 25th annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival on The Muny grounds of Forest Park, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now the second largest Earth Day celebration in the country, visitors to the free public event can enjoy three stages of entertainment, learn about sustainable products and services offered by local businesses, meet area non-profits that share the mission of Earth Day, and participate in a variety of hands-on educational activities.

More information on the event and how to get involved can be found at www.stlouisearthday.org.