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Shepherdstown marks Earth Day

April 25, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Special to The Herald-Mail

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The strains of "Bye Bye Love" greeted patrons Saturday afternoon as they walked up from the jammed lower parking lot to the pavilion at Morgan's Grove Park for the Panhandle Earth Day Celebration.

It wasn't Don and Phil belting out the Everly Brothers hit, just Greg and Sam, but their rendition sounded remarkably familiar.

Greg Lloyd and Sam Felkner, well-known in local musical circles, were among seven groups, from duets to bands, who performed music for the afternoon-long event.,

The event was billed by organizers as "the first of many" to recognize Earth Day at the Shepherdstown park, spokeswoman Stephanie Unger said.

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"We might change the name next year," said Unger, a fifth-grade teacher at Shepherdstown Elementary School.

The idea for the celebration came from her husband, Bill Unger, a member of the All Star Garage Band, a local ensemble.

"They used to celebrate Earth Day at the park, but the last one was held in 1999," Stephanie Unger said.

Bill Unger had talked about starting a local music festival, and his idea was paired with his wife's idea for an Earth Day festival.

"It grew from there," Stephanie Unger said.

She and her committee rounded up nearly 40 vendors, mostly environmental-leaning nonprofit groups, plus some local artists and businesses for Saturday's event.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation helped by paying the rent for the day at Morgan's Grove Park, Stephanie Unger said.

"The bands are playing for free today, but it's not fair to ask them to do it next year," she said. "Any money we make from donations today will go to pay for next year.

"The goal of the festival is to get people in the community out networking and talking to each other."

Several nonprofits, including groups opposing construction of an electric power line through Jefferson County and a slate mining strip mine in Berkeley County, were soliciting names on petitions.

Karen Valentine, founder of Go Green Gals, a home-based, for-profit Internet company that promotes green businesses, was handing out safe, American-made, reusable plastic drinking bottles to promote ways of protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival and Single Payer Healthcare all had volunteers promoting their organizations.

Kate Didden and Christy Kessler, parents of students at Shepherdstown Elementary School and both members of the school's habitat team, talked at their table about the 40-foot-by-40-foot vegetable and flower garden that students there prepare, plant and reap each year.

Commercial booth operators included Four Seasons Books, a Shepherdstown bookstore with a table filled with books on green themes. A spokeswoman for Blue Morning Farm, which does commercially supported agriculture, explained how, for $475, one can have 20 weeks worth of fresh vegetables.

There also was a booth that sold organic cosmetics, and massage therapist Kathleen McLaughlin of Frederick, Md., was offering massages at a rate of $1 per minute at her "Be in Touch" booth.

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