From wetlands education to the Vegan Village, there’s something for everyone at Earth Day

Baton Rouge goes green

Fun fact: Southern Louisiana contains 40 percent of all the wetlands in the lower United States.

Not-so-fun fact: Louisiana loses about a football field’s worth of wetlands every hour, according to a 2011 U.S. Geological survey. While it may seem like the average resident can do little to stop wetland loss or any of the many environmental challenges we face, for the past few decades there have been hundreds of Louisianians working hard to do just that.

The Louisiana Earth Day festival takes place Sunday in downtown Baton Rouge and brings together those people and many others from across the state for great food, music, and education on what residents can do to save Louisiana’s precious natural resources.

Micaela Coner, president of the Earth Day board of directors, knows that maintaining the fine line between harnessing resources and preserving the state’s natural beauty is a challenge — but it’s a challenge she thinks Louisianians can handle.

“I think, like everything, it’s a balance,” Coner says. “It’s about finding that balance between competing interests. But in order to have a great state we all have to work together…How can we have the businesses and industries that we need but also function in an environmentally-friendly manner?”

Whatever the Earth Day team has been doing seems to be working, as the event has grown to become one of the largest Earth Day festivals in the nation.

“The first Louisiana Earth Day was held in 1990…that first festival drew over 90,000 people…and 24 years later we’ve grown to be one of the largest festivals in the US. I think it’s due to the committed work of the volunteers and the sponsors over the past 24 years that’s helped take it to where we are today.”

This year’s theme is “We protect what we love.” Coner says this theme will be present in the festival’s many activities, which will be fun and educational for all ages.

“We’ll have a focus on Louisiana wetlands, recycling, composting, how people can eat green, create their own backyard habitats. This year we also have a new event: the water tent. It covers all things about water resources … also new this year we have the Vegan Village. We’re trying to bring in healthier food, in addition to our normal festival food, and this is the first year to have that.”

There will be four stages at the event, each with different performers. Festival goers can check out Grammy-winning band Terrence Simien and the Zydeco Experience at the Earth Stage, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie at the Cultural and Heritage Stage, traditional Chinese dancers and the Louisiana Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble at the Earth for Children Stage, and much more.

Coner says that those who may have been curious about Earth Day events in the past but have never attended one before are more than welcome to come and see what it’s all about.

“I would say come on out! It’s a nice way to experience the community of Louisiana and learn about the environment and have a good time with your family and friends.”

She also hopes that those who come to the event will go home with the knowledge that they can, in fact, make a difference.

“I think we feel that the message we really want to bring home is that each individual that practices environmental stewardship can make a difference in saving our resources and protecting our environment.”

Schedule of events

Earth Stage

1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Sol Driven Train (Courtesy of Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge/Sunday in the Park)

3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: The Mulligan Brothers

5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Phat Hat

7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience

Louisiana Cultural and Heritage Stage

12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie

3 p.m.-5 p.m.: T’Monde

5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Paul Daigle and Cajun Gold

Earth Arts Stage

2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Baton Rouge Belly Dance for Heifer International

4 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Lt. General Russel Honoré: Water – Keep it Clean

Earth for Children Stage

Noon-12:20 p.m.: Yang Guang Chinese Art Group: Traditional Chinese dance

12:20 p.m.-1 p.m.: Louisiana Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble

1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Youth Singer/Songwriters: Christopher Coreil and others

2 p.m.-3 p.m.: Red Sticking Fencing Demonstration

3 p.m.-4 p.m.: EBR Talented Music Students: Taught by Mike Esnealt

4 p.m.-5 p.m.: Youth Musicians