Student heads up VC’s Earth Day Festival

Music? Check. Vendors? Check. Awesome location? Check.

As first-time festival organizers go, Diana Forsberg is moving toward a success with the first Annual VCSU Earth Day Festival kicking off at Medicine Wheel Park Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Forsberg, a Fisheries and Wildlife major who began classes at VCSU last summer, has been planning the event from the ground up since February.
“I thought ‘That’s just the sort of thing I wanted to be involved with,’” Forsberg said of finding out about VCSU’s Environmental Task Force, an organization that provides educational opportunities on campus to promote recycling. “I had a bunch of ideas already, and one was to do a festival, because I had been to some of the Earth Day events at MSUM and wanted to bring that here. I’m really passionate about helping preserve our Earth and getting people turned on to these ideas, so I’m trying to plant that seed in people with this festival.”

“Everybody said, ‘We’d like to have a festival’ but nobody’s taken the initiative,” said VCSU Executive Assistant Rhonda Fairfield. “This was (Diana’s) first year on the committee, and she just started it from the ground up. She did some checking, and got together the resources and vendors to make it happen. She did it out of a passion.”

“I just thought we could try to find people from around the community who farm organically or have products that promote environmentally friendly practices,” Forsberg said of the many booths that will dot the festival, including the Valley City farmer’s market, vendors selling shares of produce, a composting demonstration, the Prairie Waters Research Center, pottery, organic seeds, Earth-friendly cosmetics and small food samples served with compostable bowls and silverware.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to take home something green.
“Because we’re moving the science building, there’s a bunch of plants that need new homes, so we’ll be selling those for really cheap,” Forsberg said.

Entertainment will be provided by several VCSU students, and a performance from the Lakota Thunder drum and vocal group starting at 8 p.m. Games will be provided, as well as telescopes for viewing the stars later in the evening. If mother nature decides not to cooperate, Forsberg said a decision will be made early Wednesday to move the festival indoors to the VCSU Student Center.

Earth Day festivities have been hampered the past few Aprils with flooding and weather concerns, but Fairfield is confident this year’s events will go as planned.

“We just resurrected last year’s schedule, added to it tweaked a lot of things,” she said.

Planning the festival has been hectic for Forsberg, who also has a 15-month old daughter.

“I have a fairly busy life with a toddler and school,” she said. “It’s been cool to connect with people in the community who are like-minded.
There have been some roadblocks, and Rhonda’s sort of had to rein me in a little bit with some grandiose ideas, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Forsberg says she has a passion for getting people to think outside the box.

“As a mother, I want the world to still be providing resources for my children,” she said That drives me too. I want a healthy Earth for my daughter.”

Fairfield said VCSU professors were encouraged to integrate an Earth Day-themed lesson or project in their class, and several responded to the challenge.

“It’s really about awareness,” Fairfield said. “The more we look at our options for recycling the more things we find, and it’s like ‘Who knew?’ There’s tons of simple things you can do.”

“We’ve really pulled this together,” said Forsberg. “It was kind of this idea that’s grown into more of an event than I thought it would be, with more booths and music. Now all we need is people to come, that would be the prize for all the hard work.”