State Recognizes EarthFest as an Outstanding Program

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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State Recognizes EarthFest as an Outstanding Program

Posted: 05/11/2007
The Tennessee Valley Earth Partnership's, (TVEP), EarthFest has been recognized by the state as an outstanding program for its efforts to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Gov. Phil Bredesen's office announced this week that EarthFest has received a 2007 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award - one of only 12 winners out of more than 100 events and projects submitted for consideration. The City of Knoxville, which is a financial supporter and one of the partners in TVEP, nominated EarthFest 2006 for the award. The event is Knoxville, and the region's celebration of Earth Day.Knox County, the University of Tennessee, Keep Knoxville Beautiful and several other organizations are also part of TVEP."This is great" John Homa, the city's solid waste reduction specialist and co-chair of the Tennessee Valley Earth Partnership, said of the award. "It's really exciting that we can put on an event of this size for the region and be recognized for it.""Hopefully it will be a good example for other cities to put on the same type of event," he added.Homa, along with Cat Wilt with the UT's Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment have been coordinators of the event since its creation eight years ago and have worked with vendors, contributors and other organizations to make it a success.TVEP won the stewardship award in the "Environmental and Education Outreach" category.A release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation noted that the 2006 version of Earthfest promoted public awareness of environmental issues in East Tennessee ranging from clean air and water to urban forestation.It also noted that EarthFest practiced what it preached.

The event, which featured more than 100 exhibtors and drew more than 10,000 people to World's Fair Park, was a "zero-waste event" resulting in barely 150 pounds of non-recyclable wastes that ended up in a landfill.Homa said organizers did even better at EarthFest 2007 - despite drawing 13,000 to 14,000 visitors and featuring about 110 exhibitors and vendors."There was just 25 pounds of trash that we couldn't find some way to compost or recycle," Homa said of the aftermath of EarthFest 2007.The Department of Environment and Conservation noted in announcing the awards that, "the event has been such a success that other event organizers in the area are modeling (EarthFest) to make their events "waste-free."The City, Knox County and the University of Tennessee started the event eight years ago and the first one drew four thousand people to Concord Cove Park.It mixes environmental exhibits with food, music and fun.It has since grown into one of the premier environmental festivals in the Southeast.Many of the exhibits and environmental displays were designed with children in mind and included hands-on activities.Homa said the event is a celebration, but one with a serious purpose - making people aware of the small steps they can take to make Knoxville and the surrounding area a better place to live environmentally for all of us.