The 17th Annual Douglas County Earth Day and Energy Fair 2017 will take place this Saturday in the Exhibit Building at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, celebrating the actual date of Earth Day on April 22 this year.

“This is a celebration of the Earth that’s a reminder to all of us to be good stewards of our planet,” said volunteer Earth Day organizer Stuart Liebowitz. “We’re presenting a broad range of options that are friendly to the Earth.”

Among more than 50 Earth Day-themed exhibitors this year, the latest in electric car technology will be a highlight.

“We cover the gamut of alternative transportation, with everything from biking to the latest in alternative technology,” Liebowitz said.

Electric cars like Teslas (with a range of over 200 miles per charge), the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf will be among the vehicles featured, along with electric bicycles. The owners of the vehicles will also be there to answer questions.

“This is real-life experience, not a salesperson giving a pitch,” Liebowitz said.

The Velo Club and Bike Walk Roseburg will also be offering free bike adjustments and minor repairs for bikes at the fair. Umpqua Transit will display a bus, and representatives will answer questions about riding the bus.

The fair is a family-friendly event. Wildlife Safari will bring live animals while the Bureau of Land Management will offer birdhouse building at a migratory bird display. Newcastle Solar will also show the latest in solar technology.

A nature poetry contest will take place at 11:45 a.m. sponsored by An Association of Writers, and Sunrise Enterprises will host a fashion show featuring recycled clothing at 11:15 a.m. Raffles with prizes such as bicycles will also be held throughout the event.

Food will be provided by a Phoenix School fundraiser, and live music will take place all day with the Phoenix School Band at noon, Underground River at 1:15 p.m. and The Rovers, a nine-piece Celtic band, at 2:45 p.m.

This year’s fair introduces a new event called the Earth Keeper Art Contest for students in kindergarten to 12th grade. Student artwork will illustrate the themes of environmental stewardship, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“This gives any public school student in Douglas County the opportunity to create art and have it seen at the Earth Day Fair that draws an estimated 3,000 or more visitors,” said Earth Day event coordinator Zev Braun.

The top two students in each grade category will win prizes for art judged by Umpqua Valley Arts Association representatives. The categories are divided into K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.

All the artwork submitted by students will be exhibited at the fair, with the top 12 winners announced at the fair from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m.

“This art show creates an investment in the next generation of public school students toward the Earth,” Braun said. “It shows them that creating things that have some say in how the Earth’s conservation unfolds is important, and that they can cause changes based on their self expression.”

This new art event also strives to get high school students involved in Earth Day, since they are the closest group of students that can become professionals or advocates for environmental protection and conservation.

Today Earth Day is run by a group of about 12 volunteers who raise enough funds to rent a space at the fairgrounds for a day of celebration honoring the planet we live on. NeighborWorks Umpqua is the major sponsor for the event, along with multiple local partial sponsors.

For more information, call 541-672-9819 or visit the Facebook page. Guests are also encouraged to bring a canned or nonperishable food donation to help the United Community Action Network, or UCAN, Food Bank.

Reporter Vera Westbrook can be reached at 541-957-4216 or vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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Education and Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Vera Westbrook is the education, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4216 or by email at vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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