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



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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.

The Northern saw-whet owl lives in the deep woods, according to Jonathan Malriat of the Sharon Audubon, and is a "small bird." He held Hera and other birds of prey before a crowd gathered at Newtown's annual Earth Day Festival at Newtown Middle School on April 23. Festival guests got an up-close look at her bright yellow eyes, before turning to other activities and demonstrations at the annual event. (Bee Photo, Bobowick)
Housatonic Valley Waldorf School students Henry James and Liam Counter, sitting, used a long weaving device to create jump ropes for interested customers, including 10-year-old Ava Mitchell who lent a hand in the process during the Newtown Earth Day Festival at Newtown Middle School. (Bee Photo, Voket)
Newtown Public Works staffers Arlene Miles and Eileen Ratcliffe prepare and distribute new food recycling receptacles for residents who were hoping to do their part by reducing unnecessary refuse at the local landfill. (Bee Photo, Voket)
A number of local and regional musicians provided a soundtrack to Newtown's Earth Day celebration, including perennial favorite Dr Richard Coopersmith. (Bee Photo, Voket)
Visitors to the 2016 Earth Day celebration April 23 swarm around a tabletop display presented by local beekeeper Jeff Shwartz. (Bee Photo, Voket)
Earth Day exhibitor Andrew Mangold chats with John, Erin, Ivy, and Noah Masotta about the planned Newtown Fruit Tree Trail during the annual festivities being held April 23 on the lawn of Newtown Middle School. (Bee Photo, Voket)
Newtown High School freshmen Tori Keayes, left, and Hailey Pankon sell "dirt cups" made of pudding and crushed cookies and gummy worms. They were selling the cups and several other crafts to fundraise for a scouting trip they hope to make their senior year. The girls are members of Girl Scout Troop 50586. (Bee Photo, Bobowick)
A sign standing before a sculpture made of garbage discarded at Newtown High School is shaped into an N standing several feet tall. On a sign posted beside the NHS garbage sculpture is the message: This sculpture contains trash/litter collected around the NHS campus in one hour. (Bee Photo, Bobowick)
Mallory McCall's rosy cheeks are accented by flowers painted on her brow. (Bee Photo, Bobowick)
Ava Ashla finds the right combination of wind and motion to keep her ribbon swirling during the Earth Day Festival at Newtown Middle School. (Bee Photo, Bobowick)
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