Earth Day Festival will return to Hermitage

Apr. 17—HERMITAGE — Whether it's learning more about the environment or actively cleaning up pollution, the second annual Earth Day Festival will offer something for residents of all ages to enjoy.

Organized as a collaboration between the City of Hermitage and the Shenango River Watchers, the Earth Day Festival will be held Saturday at the Training and Workforce Development Center in LindenPointe, Hermitage.

Hermitage Director of Recreation and Community Development Jessica Gotch said the majority of the festival's activities will take place at the center between 12 and 5 p.m.

"We're going to have a good mix of vendors and agencies and informational activities," Gotch said of the event.

One activity will be a birds-of-prey presentation, "Wings of Wonder," courtesy of the Tamarack Wildlife Center at 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., while there will also be a community paper shredding event from 12 to 4 p.m., which will be free to all Mercer County residents.

The paper-shredding services are provided by the Keystone Blind Association and sponsored by the Mercer County Commissioners.

Other activities will be offered as well, including activities aimed at younger participants.

Musical entertainment will be provided throughout the day, with Ruby Mountain Music from 12 to 2 p.m. and Better Late Bluegrass from 3 to 5 p.m.

Between the performances, officials will announce the winners of a poetry contest and an art contest, Gotch said.

The art contest involved students from Artman Elementary School, with awards issued for winners in each grade.

The poetry contest involved submissions from high school students throughout Mercer County, with submissions judged by members of the Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania. The winner will receive a $100 gift card, Gotch said.

Food will be available during the festival, with Torta'Mo, Sandy's Meltdown, Big Rail Brewing, Penn State Creamery and Slow Hurry Coffee food trucks planned, Gotch said.

Aside from the activities at LindenPointe, the festival will feature tours of the Hermitage Waste Water Treatment Plant and Food Digester.

At the facility, the digester converts food waste into electricity, which is sold back to the grid.

Shuttles are expected to make trips every 30 minutes from 1 to 3 p.m., as visitors are transported between the festival and the treatment plant, Gotch said.

However, those looking to take an active role in cleaning up the environment will have a chance to kick off Earth Day with a cleanup organized by the Shenango River Watchers before the festival begins later.

The cleanup will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, with volunteers expected to gather at 10 Council Ave., Wheatland, Shenango River Watchers Director of Operations Monica King said. The cleanup will focus on an area along the nearby railroad tracks.

A similar cleanup was held during last year's Earth Day Festival, focusing on different areas of Hermitage.

Since Wheatland merged with Hermitage effective Jan. 1, King said this year provided a good opportunity to target the polluted area along the railroad tracks.

"There's over 1,000 tires dumped there, along with TVs and other garbage, so we're working with the city to remove that and have it disposed of or recycled properly," King said.

Last year's inaugural Earth Day Festival had some gray skies and light rain, although Gotch said the festival still drew a "great turnout" from residents interested in either educating themselves or actively participating in some of the festival's programs.

"There were a lot of families and children who came out, and when the weather cleared up for the main part of the festival, you could tell people really enjoyed being there," Gotch said.

King said last year's cleanup drew about 25 to 30 people despite the weather.

With clear skies expected for this weekend, King said organizers hope to see twice as many volunteers for this year's cleanup, especially since a similar cleanup held a couple weeks ago at Shenango River Lake drew 54 people.

"I think people, once the snow starts to melt, they see all the trash popping up in the springtime and they want to do something about it," King said.

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