Earth Day in Ashland

Going green doesn't have to be as drastic as buying a Prius.

"It could be committing to buy local foods, making upgrades for home energy efficiency, volunteering for habitat-restoration projects or eliminating disposables," says Paige Prewett, director of Jackson County SMARTWorks and coordinator for Rogue Valley Earth Day, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20.

The 13th annual celebration, with a theme of "Take the Next Step," will include more than 60 exhibits featuring practical ideas for shaping eco-conscious lifestyles.

"We're hoping to inspire individuals, businesses and organizations to expand their commitments to sustainable living," Prewett says.

But there will be a lot more than good ideas at the local Earth Day event, including live entertainment, kids activities, vendors and locally made, utensil-free foods, such as bagels, wraps, tamales and baked goods. Everything will happen on the grounds at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland.

Visitors can take a look at electric cars — Nissan's LEAF and Volkswagen's Jetta Hybrid — see a solar oven at work, learn about gardening and composting techniques, explore green-building products or just sit back and enjoy the live entertainment.

New this year, Southern Oregon Goodwill stores will present the UPcycle Fashion and Furniture Show, featuring wearable clothing and functional furniture made from unwanted items. The show will be at 1:30 p.m.

"The (Earth Day) event also is unique in that more than half the exhibitors have hands-on activities for kids as part of the EcoQuest adventure," Prewett says.

Kids can participate in activities at various booths to receive a mark on their EcoQuest tag and a chance to win a grand prize. They also will find hula hoops, face painting, a giant blow-up cave, baby goats from Willow-Witt Ranch, field games organized by Ashland YMCA and a craft project, making reusable grocery bags out of worn T-shirts.

"The kids can come from 11 (a.m.) to 4 p.m. and be busy the whole time," Prewett promises parents.

Saturday only, admission to ScienceWorks will be free. Inside, hands-on exhibits about aerodynamics, nano technology and motion will be available, and museum staff will be serving "liquid nitrogen ice cream" for $1 at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.

Depending on the weather, between 1,500 and 3,000 people have attended this Earth Day event each year. Last year, thanks to everyone's eco-conscious habits and the Earth Day committee's "zero waste" policy, there was only one 5-gallon bucket of trash at the end of the day, Prewett says proudly. "We try to prevent it before it starts," she says. "All food vendors are required to use durables and compostables."

Visitors are encouraged to bike, carpool or take a bus to the event. Free shuttles are available from Grants Pass and Rogue River. To register for the shuttle, call 541-226-7494. A free shuttle also is available for Scenic Middle School and Crater High School students.

For a schedule of entertainment, events and shuttles, and a list of participating vendors, see

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