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Music, Solar Power, Food & Fun Greeted Earth Day Festival Guests

Published: May 2, 2016

Kendra Bobowick

Hera’s eyes, the color of sunrise, looked at people crowding around her. A saw-whet owl rescued by Sharon Audubon, Hera, named after a Greek goddess, had a collision with a car, and now lives in an aviary. She also travels — in this case, to the Newtown Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 23. Her handler, Jonathan Malriat, greeted the circle of parents and children to look at the small northern owl that prefers deep forests.

The Audubon’s Birds of Prey exhibit, returning to Newtown’s celebration this year, was one of many demonstrations, crafts, and interactive learning stations available to the guests crowding the middle school lawn that afternoon.

Sister and brother Rachel and Andrew Arena reached past a low fence to pet young goats in a pen. Diana Paproski, of Castle Hill Farm on Sugar Street, reached into a feed bin and handed the children grain, asking if they wanted to feed them.

Many families and individuals found different areas of interest. Tina Long paused to listen to one of several bands playing throughout the day, her dog Chelsea accompanying her. Ava Ashla briefly found herself tangled in a long red ribbon that the wind wrapped around her feet. Soon she had the ribbon twirling, her back to the breeze. Nearby, Caitlyn Farrell also swung a long ribbon in circles.

The Chenoweth family all posed around Tom, the dog, where he sat before Joe Chenoweth’s booth for Smart Solar CT. A Newtown resident, Mr Chenoweth was one of several clean energy vendors available to speak with homeowners about a green energy options. Also aimed at green practices were town departments and local organizations including Newtown Forest Association members, Conservation Commission members, and more.

Just a few feet away from the solar group was Andrew Mangold, promoting his concept for a Fruit Tree Trail at Fairfield Hills. He envisions a project of volunteer teams doing the plantings along the campus’s walking trail. A notebook open before him included the many names of potential helping hands.

Behind Mr Mangold, and just past his hand drawn renderings, was beekeeper Jeff Shwartz with a section of the beehive colony he nurtures at the Victory Garden in Fairfield Hills. Kristen Kinsey leaned in to peer at the bees crawling over the comb and asked Mr Shwartz if he is ever stung.

He had been stung several times just that day, he said. The tops of his hands were swollen to prove it. He said the venom helps with his arthritis. He then plucked out one feisty bee, held it to his hand, and let her sting him, as Ms Kinsey watched.

The honeybees are a sample of thousands of varieties of bees in the state, he said.

Also with a booth set up and goods for sale were Newtown High School freshmen Tori Keayes and Hailey Pankon with “dirt cups,” a mix of cupcake and pudding and crushed cookies. They sold their dirt cups and decorative picture frames as a fundraiser for a scouting trip they want to take in their senior year.

And near the edge of the lawn, where festival fun ended, was a face painting station where young Mallory McCall had decorations covering her ruddy cheeks.

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