By Kathy Shaw

Sun and Fun! 2019 was a huge success!  The free festival, now in its 5th year, aims to  to educate, in a festive atmosphere, about ways to get involved helping others and  the environment. Over 30 diverse community groups participated including the Green Mountain Club, BCSWA, Bennington County Beekeepers, UCS Head Start, Solar Pro, and  VSECU to name a few.  We have live music throughout the day, kids activities, and a luncheon of organic, local, healthy food that is by donation only.  The kids activities centered around helping the environment for example one game had kids fishing for what does NOT belong in a little pond (cans/trash etc) and another was  crafting with recyclables.  Local non-profit Sunrise Family Resource Center director Denise Main brought hula hoops, which got the kids and adults moving.  Southern VT Natural History Museum did two presentations on VT wildlife.

The grant that Rise VT provided allowed us to purchase reusable eco-bags, made from recycled materials. Since VT is set to go single use plastic bag free next year, guests were thrilled to receive one when they entered the festival. These bags will have a big impact: reducing plastic in the environment and helping those without transportation to carry their belongings and groceries. Since the local food pantry (GBICS) has transitioned to reusable bags over single use plastic, these will be of great benefit.

We cannot thank RiseVT enough for helping us out in this festival.  The grant not only helped purchase the bags, but it also helped us to increase visibility of the event, attracting more people in the community who need help, want to get involved, and encouraged folks to get out and enjoy nature and help preserve it.  We hoped we helped RiseVT in turn, by listing them as sponsors on our CAT-TV PSA, Bennington Banner ad, press releases to the local papers and VT News guide, Front Page Forum/Bennington Chamber of Commerce/Rutland Herald, flyers, and program for the event.