AP NEWS

Earth Day Festival gets new venue – annual celebration Saturday moves to free site in Spokane Valley

April 11, 2019

The 49th annual Earth Day Festival will kick off as usual Saturday, but the annual celebration of nature will be in a new venue, an empty field next to Balfour Park in Spokane Valley.

The festival has been held in Riverfront Park nearly every year since it was founded in 1970, but the community group couldn’t afford to keep it there, said organizer Charity Doyl. “Riverfront Park has increased the fees to rent the park,” she said. “The city of Spokane Valley gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse. It’s 8 acres of undeveloped property on Sprague Avenue.”

The land has been earmarked for the expansion of Balfour Park next door, but the land across from the Spokane Valley City Hall has not yet been developed. Most importantly, the city is not charging any money for the use of the space, Doyl said. Parking is free as well.

The change seems to have been well received. The group raised the money it needs to put on the event in only three months and there are 98 vendors signed up, much more than usual. Several Spokane Valley businesses have signed up for a booth for the first time, Doyl said.

“There’s been a lot of community support,” she said. “Earth Day would not have happened if the city of Spokane Valley had not stepped up. Spokane Valley has really embraced and welcomed the event.”

There will be plenty of room for all the vendors and the fact that the site was free allowed organizers to lower the fees they charge for booth space, Doyl said. Both of those factors helped increase the number of vendors that have signed up for the event.

“That has been quite the appeal,” she said. “We wanted to attract the growers, the artists.”

There is no running water at the site, so the Spokane Valley Fire Department has agreed to run a hose from Fire Station 1 on the same block, Doyl said. SCOPE volunteers will be there to help direct traffic.

Doyl, who runs the Northwest Family Fun Fair, is running the event for the first time. She contacted the group because she wanted to volunteer at Earth Day but instead discovered that they needed someone to run the event.

“It was on my bucket list to be more conscious of helping out the environment,” she said. “I ended up running it because I’m an event organizer. I had no plans of doing it. I just wanted to volunteer.”

The festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at 105 N. Balfour Road. The theme is “Save the Species” and those who attend will receive flower seeds to plant to benefit Monarch butterflies, which have been declining in population in recent years. There will also be other giveaways during the event, including re-usable water bottles and toys for kids.

A full schedule of live performances is planned, including dance groups and drummers. There will be games and crafts for kids and the 2nd Chance Ranch will have a petting zoo and pony rides.

There will be educational displays from groups like the Spokane County Library District, the Spokane County Master Gardeners, Save the Salmon and the Washington Trails Association. Food trucks will be on site, plus a mini farmers market. Zome Designs will be there to print souvenir T-shirts on site and an electric car show is planned.

Those attending the event are invited to bring unwanted clothes, shoes, toys and household items for Value Village. Those who donate will have the opportunity to spin a prize wheel to win one of several prizes available.

Quite a few artists have signed up this year as well as crafters and those specializing in upcycled and repurposed items, Doyl said. “We have a lot of artists coming, more than what we had in the past,” she said.