Children clad in tie-dyed shirts and face paint ran around in the rain before a stage with a bluegrass band on a Sunday afternoon.
The event is quintessential Eugene. It’s almost like taking the Saturday Market and putting it in the middle of an arboretum. With many of the same vendors, like Humble Bee Honey and Rose City Totes, the festival celebrates local artisans and food vendors.
One noteworthy booth was the Nature’s Mystery Awareness School. They host camps and workshops to help kids get familiar with nature. Organizer Hosanna White explains that the program’s mission is to offer a valuable community for youth who want a deeper connection with nature.
At a similar booth, the Willamette Resources & Educational Network offered educational resources with similar goals. Their mission statement is “practicing and promoting land stewardship through education, partnerships, and scientific research.” Volunteer Tierra Watkins explained different animal pelts and footprints to onlookers and curious visitors. Watkins got involved with WREN a year ago and loves the feeling of teaching youth about nature.
The festival offered nature walks each hour around the arboretum, the ground still wet from Saturday’s rain, as participants strolled around looking at the newly bloomed flowers. This year also included the 10th annual Art in Nature Trail — “a way to experience art in an outdoor, fully immersive space.” This project puts local artists’ works on display throughout the festival.
Seven bands took the stage in the middle of the festival. The Wildflowers Bluegrass Band, Moonlight Jubilee, Baroque Betty, Halie & The Moon, Satori Bob, The Slow Ponies and Mood Area 52 played music from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., exploring everything from folk to bluegrass with horns, guitars, cellos and violins.
In the White Oak Pavillion, visitors could explore hundreds of wildflowers and other plants, learning about their origins and getting closer looks. Volunteers walked around answering questions about different flora and fauna — including a microscope examining a Bombus Vosnesenskii, more commonly known as a yellow-faced bumblebee.
In the Kids Booth, a large cardboard box labeled “The Supreme Human-Powered Organic Fruit-O-Matic 3000” dispensed fruit through flaps in the box delivered by tiny hands. Other activities included microscopes, face painting and nature crafts.
The festival has been happening annually for 40 years. Powered by volunteers, it gives the community a way to celebrate spring and nature in one of the gems of Eugene. While celebrating local art, artisans and educational opportunities, this event can be enjoyed by people of all ages.