Heathsville Earth Day Festival Celebrates Nature and Good Stewardship


The 5th annual Earth Day Festival in Heathsville welcomed hundreds of visitors to enjoy dozens of exhibits, demonstrations, displays and activities Saturday, April 20, 2019. The event was free and open to the public.

Hosted by NAPS (Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship) in conjunction with the first Heathsville Farmer’s Market of the season, the eco-friendly event celebrated the Northern Neck’s natural beauty and showcased the area’s environmental stewardship resources.

The festival kicked off with the Earth Day 5K Run and School Challenge. Congratulations to overall winners John Baker of Lynchburg and Tahi Wiggins of Heathsville. Chesapeake Academy took 1st Place ($1,000) in the School Challenge, with Northumberland High/Middle School taking 2nd Place ($500).

At the entrance to the festival area, attendees were invited to add a “leaf” to the “Earth Day Pledge Tree” by writing down their individual pledges to help the environment this year. Each person who made a pledge was offered a complimentary NAPS reusable grocery bag.

The “Spirit of 1608” – an impressive full-size replica of a sailing barge Capt. John Smith used in his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay – was “moored” just inside the entrance. Interpreters in period dress from Reedville Fishermen’s Museum informed visitors about the vessel’s features, construction and use, adding insights from the Captain’s notes about the pristine waters over 400 years ago.

NAPS volunteers worked with the museum to add a “trashy” twist to the vessel display – off the starboard bow was a pile of discarded bags, cans, bottles and other refuse littering the simulated seabed, with signs asking “What would John Smith say?” and "Would John Smith start a colony here if he saw this?"

The museum also displayed exhibits in its tent next to the barge, including a diorama depicting how trash, fertilizer and other pollutants wash into the creeks, bay and oceans.

NAPS’ Julie Hendrickson reinforced the anti-litter theme donning her “Trash Queen” costume covered with discarded bottles, cans and bags and topped with a trash-laden crown. Attendees posed for pictures with the “queen.”

The Northern Neck Master Gardeners promoted their Shoreline Evaluation Program – a community service initiative informing waterfront property owners about shoreline protection and stabilization options. The program recommends installing and maintaining “living shorelines” whenever possible due to the environmental benefits.

The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a favorite environmental venue for master naturalists and bird watchers. This year the focus was on preservation of natural resources on Federal Lands. Visitors to the tent were shown educational displays with fossilized objects including shark's teeth and bones which were illegally possessed inside the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Pelts were also on display this year, including a skunk, raccoon, and mink, to help individuals correctly identify animals found in the local area.

The Northern Neck Master Naturalists promoted their program of training volunteers as educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. For more information about the courses and other outreach efforts, visit its website.