Keeping cool with EarthFair

Posted: April 8th, 2016 | Balboa Park, Featured | No Comments

Annual planet-embracing festival returns in advance of Earth Day

By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor

If you aren’t already doing it in your daily life, it’s that time of the year to feel connected to the Earth again, as the annual EarthFair 2016 heads to Balboa Park on April 17 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Though the internationally recognized Earth Day is actually the following Friday, April 22, San Diego Earth Works — the nonprofit that has produced the annual local homage to planet Earth since 1990, the 20th anniversary of the Earth Day — likes to gets a jump on things.

Dubbed the “largest free annual environmental fair in the world” by organizers, it certainly is a large draw locally, attracting nearly 600,000 visitors to Balboa Park every year for the one-day festival. In comparison, organizers say the first event in 1990 drew 60,000.

This year’s EarthFair is themed “Vote Cool,” a spin on the current presidential election season.

“Not only do we need to support ways to cool global warming, we need cooler heads in our politics,” said Carolyn Chase, chief executive officer of Earth Works. “Be cool, do cool, VOTE COOL!”

Nearly 600,000 people are expected to take part in this year's EarthFair at Balboa Park April 17. (Courtesy San Diego EarthWorks)

Nearly 600,000 people are expected to take part in this year’s EarthFair at Balboa Park April 17. (Courtesy San Diego EarthWorks)

This year’s EarthFair attendees are in for another full day of exhibitors, kids activities, entertainment, sustainable energy and product demonstrations, art, food and more, all focused on sustaining the planet where we all live. There’s even a kid’s Earth parade and a concourse showing off the latest in electric cars.

“It’s totally amazing to me each year all the new things people come up with to go green and help others do the next thing,” Chase said. “Also interesting is who sticks with it from year-to-year — what works and what doesn’t.”

The list of exhibitors, which really are the heart and soul of this event, is exhaustive. They include national brands and small mom-and-pop businesses, including such unique vendors as Aunt Be Botanicals, Plant with a Purpose, Peace Pies, Herbal Apothecary, Temple Turmeric, the Friendly Feather Shop, Scenichouse, Urban Octupus and dozens of others. Also on hand are local and state community and public service organizations, those with political leanings, and the expected, like Greenpeace, SDG&E, SolarCity, MTS, the Sierra Club and more. For a full list of exhibitors, visit

“I make a list each year of the tables I’m going to visit with an empty backpack at the beginning of the day,” Chase said. “This year I hope to score a free tomato plant, sustainable dog treats for my dog Dozey and some of the most fantastic enviro-candles — and that’s just to start.”

Entertainment this year will take place on five different stages throughout the park.

The Children’s Area will have its own Children’s Stage, with lots of performances for kids when they are not occupied by the crafts, painting and games in the rest of the area.

There will also be a Magic Show stage set up in front of the lily pond, with entertainment by EarthFair mainstay “the Dr. Wilderness Family.” The children’s parade will start from Spanish Village at 10:30 a.m. and work its way to Pan American Plaza, where the Children’s Area can be found.

Other stages include the Sun Stage, located behind the Federal Building and the Moon Stage at Park Boulevard and President’s Way. Both will feature contemporary style music.

Those interested in learning about everything imaginable that falls under the sustainable umbrella will want to hit up the eHome exhibit area. Ways to get you off the grid, make your windows more energy efficient, and alternative home building methods will all be on display with demonstrations and representatives to assist you.

Sustainable, plant-based food can be found in the Food Pavilion. Always been curious about vegetarian and vegan fare? Here is your chance to check it out. There will be no shortage of non-meat options.

Remember EarthFair is a “zero waste” event — you can imagine it creates a lot of potential waste — but everything used is recycled. Organizers said that last year they were able to divert 90 percent of their waste from the landfill by keeping to this policy. That’s commendable, and you can do your part.

In addition to overseeing the April 17 event, Chase said she likes to spend a big part of the festival taking hundreds of photographs with two different cameras to capture the day’s festivities and document them for EarthWorks.

“My pre-event nightmare the other week was that I forgot my camera,” she said.

For more information about EarthFair, and information on alternative transportation options, visit

—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at

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