Cherry Hill gearing up for a bigger and better Earth Festival

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Residents who’ve attended Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival in the past will see a lot of changes this year.

The sixth annual festival, scheduled for April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Croft Farm, will be larger than any before it.

Brenda Jorett, Sustainable Cherry Hill’s communications director and producer for Earth Festival, said an overwhelming response from interested vendors led to the expansion of this year’s festival.

“We will increase the capacity by expanding the festival out onto the blacktop in front of the Croft Farm,” Jorett said.

Jorett said the festival will be able to accommodate about 20 additional crafters for this year’s event, adding up to more than 100 displays. For weeks, participants have been signing up a waiting list in hopes of getting a spot at this year’s festival.

“We were ready to go by end of February,” Jorett said. “The buzz has been out there. We did outreach very early.”

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Earth Festival has also undergone a subtle name change this year. The event is being called Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival after being known simply as Earth Festival in the past.

The change was made to emphasize the message of sustainability and the environment. Jorett hopes visitors will want to get actively involved in sustainability efforts after attending this year’s event.

“We really encourage people to engage and get involved,” she said. “This is about learning and engaging and celebrating the earth.”

Visitors will have a chance to put their own touch on the earth through a new activity at the festival. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s art and sustainability task force will be creating a Pieceful Participation Wall at the event. Residents will be encouraged to contribute a drawing, craft or other art form explaining how they feel about the earth and sustainability. All contributions will be used to create an up-cycled art exhibit.

“We hope we can tour this exhibit around in the weeks and the months after the festival,” Jorett said.

The festival will also offer some new healthy eating options. New Jersey American Water will also be on hand to re-fill anyone’s reusable water bottle for free.

“We’ve really honed in on the food offerings to make the food offerings healthy options for people,” Jorett said.

The festival’s popularity continues to grow thanks to the partnership between Sustainable Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Township and Cherry Hill Public Schools. The township will collect e-waste at the event. In addition, a number of township organizations and the Cherry Hill Fire Department will be on hand.

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All public schools in Cherry Hill will have a display set up at the festival, and students will be on hand to present their projects.

Jorett said the partnership between the township, Sustainable Cherry Hill and the schools has helped the event grow with each passing year.

“It’s always an orchestration,” she said. “It does take a village, and we have an amazing number of people who stepped up to organize the event.”

The day’s festivities will kick off at 8 a.m. with the Family Fun Bike Ride. Participants can ride on a two- or nine-mile course through the neighborhood near Croft Farm. Riders must at least 8 years old and can register for the event at www.sustainablecherryhill.org.

Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival will be held rain or shine on April 25. The event is free and open to the entire community. For more information and a full list of sponsors and vendors, visit www.sustainablecherryhill.org/get-involved/earth-day-festival.