Party for the planet

Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, but Asheville's annual Earth Day Festival is still a relative newcomer, now in its fifth year. Still, the free gathering (one of the season's first festies — even more reason to celebrate) has some excellent surprises in store.

This year, Asheville Earth Day moves to Lexington Avenue for a full day of activities, food, vendors, nonprofits and entertainment. And it’s some entertainment: Poetry from area students, the six winning photos from the official Asheville Earth Day Photo contest will be on display and performers from LEAF In Schools and Streets will show off their talents. There’s plenty of live music, too, including local bands Underhill Rose and The Fritz; The New Orleans Suspects (with members of Outformation, The Radiators, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Neville Brothers); Floodwood (members of moe.); and headliner DJ Mark Farina.

If a DJ performing an Earth Day festival seems like a possible misprint (wait, shouldn't it be a roots-music ensemble of some sort? Or maybe a hand-drum outfit?) think again: San Francisco-based Farina has a lot of ideas about a soundtrack celebrating eco-consciousness, downtown Asheville and an open air street party.

"Some music is more conducive to outside," he tells Xpress. "I might do something atmospheric, funky, the tempos might change, maybe live instrumentation mixed with electronics."

Farina is best known for his Mushroom Jazz series; he's working on the eighth installment, possibly out this fall. But the world-traveling DJ, who says he collects inspirations from the many cities he visits (in Paris, where he was recently, it's "good, old-school house") has actually been spending more time at home lately. He has a 22 month-old son — that means fewer late nights spent mixing, more early mornings, and someone to teach the ins and outs of composting and recycling.

But Farina says he has been looking for a chance to get back to Asheville (the Earth Day festival popped up at just the right time for the DJs busy schedule) and he plans to arrive with plenty of music. Show up ready to dance.

And if dancing works up a thirst, well, there are libations. Beer sponsors are Foothills Brewing, Pisgah Brewing and Bud of Asheville. If you're still thirsty, sponsor Blue Moon Water will be selling biodegradable water bottles and offering a free refill station. Food vendors are local vegetarian eatery Green Light Café and Flying Falafel Brothers, along with a lemonade and snow cone stand, hot dogs and hamburgers and (because this really is a party) kettle corn. 

Want to learn more about Earth-friendly initiatives? Speakers from Western North Carolina Alliance (they work with 23 counties to both develop and preserve the rural character of the region), Sierra Club (the Western N.C. chapter of the grassroots environmental organization hosts events and outing and tackles issues like sustainable transportation, clean air and water, and green building) and Bountiful Cities (a nonprofit that runs community gardens) will be on hand to talk about their efforts.

A kids’ village features educational RV the Eco Womb Tour (Earth Day marks the start of Eco Womb's family program) as well as a nature craft area. And the adults get their educational activity center, too: Eco-Village highlights 10 local non-profits including Brother Wolf.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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