Boonsboro Green Fest helping to make 'green' mainstream
Shafer Park in Boonsboro will be a bustle of eco-friendly activity Saturday, May 18, at Boonsboro Green Fest.
Now in its 11th year, the event features more than 200 vendors and draws more than 2,000 people. Janeen Solberg, who serves as co-chairwoman along with Barbara Wetzel, said the event has come a long way since its early days.
The Boonsboro Green Fest committee, which organizes the festival, began as a part of the Boonsboro Recycling Task Force.
“Our goal at that point was all efforts centered around bringing recycling opportunities to the residents of Boonsboro,” Solberg said.
To gather ideas and inspiration, the group attended a green festival in Washington, D.C. While riding home on the Metro, members expressed excitement about what they’d experienced.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘This is something we could do on a smaller scale in Boonsboro.’ And honestly, it just took off from there,” Solberg said.
A main draw of the Boonsboro Green Fest is its recycling zone which is set up in the Community Center parking lot in Shafer Park.
“People save items year-round to bring to Green Fest to donate for reuse and recycling. We collect everything, from the smallest items like wine corks and batteries, to refrigerators. So we run the full gamut,” Solberg said.
Many people have requested a safe paint disposal option over the years, she said, so new to the recycling zone this year is paint can disposal service Yuck, Old Paint. While there is no charge for dropping off other items at the festival, Yuck, Old Paint will charge a small fee.
Also popular is the clothing swap at Shafer Park Pavilion No. 1. The week before Green Fest, people drop off clean, gently-used clothing of any size at the Community Center. Credit vouchers are given for each item, then during the festival, vouchers are accepted as payment for items. Articles of clothing also can be swapped the day of the festival, or purchased for 50 cents each.
Items remaining at the end of Green Fest are donated to Children in Need, and monetary proceeds go to Micah’s Backpack to provide nutritious meals to children.
The Green Fest offers live music throughout the day, as well as beer and wine tents featuring local brewers and vintners. Proceeds from sales go back to Boonsboro through the Friends of Shafer Park Fund, Solberg said.
Festival vendors must demonstrate eco-friendly elements of their business, and fit into one of eight “green” themed categories such as clean energy, sustainable agriculture and gardening, eco-lifestyle and “go local.”
Solberg mentioned vendor Pete’s Hankies as an example of “people trying to reduce their footprint and going beyond recycling.”
“They are going back to reusable products like cloth napkins, handkerchieves, using ‘un-paper towels.’ Just trying to get away from so many single-use products,” she said.
Other vendors include solar power consultants, plant and tree experts, backyard chicken dealers, beekeeping associations, up-cycled houseware crafters, woodworkers, natural ingredient candlemakers, and more.
Community support for Green Fest is considerable, Solberg said. There will be not one but three silent auctions, as area businesses have contributed so many items.
The festival committee is working toward a zero waste model. Water filling stations allow people to fill reusable water bottles with clean, cold water to prevent use of disposable bottles and cans. Food and paper product waste goes to a Frederick, Md.-based compost business.
“At the end of the day, we try to have very little actual trash created by our event,” Solberg said. “We try to keep the message consistent on every level, and we try to support companies in doing good work.”
The main point of Boonsboro Green Fest, she said, is education.
“The more people we get involved in these kind of activities the better, whether they live in our town or in a surrounding town,” she said. “We are thrilled to think of the fact that our message is becoming more mainstream. That is a positive thing.”
Top photo: Sustainable agriculture and “go local” are among the initiatives promoted at Boonsboro Green Fest. (Submitted photo)