This is the sixteenth year that I have helped in some way with the Hug the Earth Festival. It has grown from a one day event with about seven hundred students participating to a four day event with over three thousand students participating. In addition, there is now a Saturday Festival open to the public.
Because Stillwater Prairie Reserve was waterlogged from the rains of the previous week, the students' festivals were held at the Miami County Fairgrounds.
There were limp antennae on the Banana Slug mascot who met the children as they began their day on Tuesday but by Thursday his antennae were stiff and perky. He must have found some starch somewhere.
The band members from Santa Cruz, California, "Solar" Steve Van Zandt,
"Marine" Mark Nolan,
Doug "Dirt" Greenfield,
and "Airy" Larry Graff
have been together for nearly thirty years. They entertain children and adults with songs about our wonderful earth and encourage everyone to care for it. For quite a few years "Gaea" Gary has come with them to play drums. I don't have a recent photo of him.
During the school year the students learn a special earth song, make costumes related to the song and come out to a Miami County Park for a day of exploring and learning more about their special earth song. The festival is the culminating event. This year, some of the students were superheros with superhero capes they decorated themselves.
Here is a superhero of Ohio's prairies.
Here is another Habitat Superhero. Looks like the habitat is a river. Beside him is the bucket with the rocks he dug out of the sand and gravel pile deposited in one of the Miami County Fair grounds open sided buildings. All of the rocks in the pile are mined in Ohio.
The older students panned for their rocks. The rocks they found were from many areas of the world.
In the trough are the pans the the students will use. Standing around it, getting last minute instructions are the staff who will help them if they need it. Notice that most of the staff are wearing slug antennae.
Here the students are comparing the rocks they found with samples enclosed in this box.
The Columbus, Ohio Zoo brought unusual animals like this two-toed sloth and talked to the younger students about the animals' habits.
The older children were treated to a High Ropes Adventure which included a fast ride down a zipline. There was also a climbing tower. These were set up behind the stadium. I took this before the event was completely set up.
On Saturday, tree climbing using ropes was also set up at Stillwater Reserve.