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Earth Day events start early here

The Rappahannock River has been the focus of conservation efforts for decades, so it’s fitting that Earth Day is being observed again this year along its banks.

Saturday’s Earth Day on the Rappahannock family festival will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg. The rain date is April 19.

The riverfront park off upper Caroline Street has been the venue for the free event for several years since it was moved from Alum Spring Park.

This year’s theme, “Don’t treat soil like dirt,” ties into a a big issue facing the Rappahannock, said Linda Bailey, the city’s nature education coordinator. Sediment from erosion upstream has created long shoals and sandbars that smother habitat for aquatic creatures and block sunlight from plants in the river.

“So, we’ll have a dump truck” from the Public Works Department on hand “to illustrate that a quarter-million dump truck loads of [sediment] flows into the Chesapeake Bay each year,” Bailey said.

A flier about the event—printed on recycled paper—describes the festival this way:

“Alternative fuel cars, dozens of exhibitors, hands-on activities, live music, live animals, food vendors and so much more ”

Said Bailey, “We’ve got about a dozen new vendors this year,” along with some first-time events and activities.

Among them is John Bachman, educational events coordinator at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County. He will discuss and display fossils from the Northern Neck. Stratford, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, overlooks the Potomac River in Westmoreland County.

That section of the river harbors a rich trove of fossils, including sharks’ teeth and other remnants of ancient marine creatures.

Speaking of creatures, the Wildlife Center of Virginia will have some of its rehabilitated critters on hand, and Spotsylvania Animal Control will be bringing some exotic animals it has recovered.

Dominion Valley Pony Club will have rides for kids. Po River Apiary and Rappahannock Beekeepers Association will have honeybees on display. See the link below for more information.

The event is hosted by Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation, Keep Spotsylvania Beautiful, Rappahannock Group Sierra Club, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, and Downtown Greens Proudly Present.

A few other Earth Day options:

  • Virginia state parks are holding a week of Earth Day-related events and programs April 22–29.
  • Earth Day at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is on April 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are free that day.
  • Friends of the Rappahannock is holding its annual spring river cleanup April 26 at Old Mill Park, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration is required. See more details at

First held in 1970, Earth Day falls on April 22. It was the brainchild of Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, an early environmental activist.

Earth Day flier:

More on Earth Day:

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431


WHO: Local conservation organizations

WHAT: Earth Day on the Rappahannock

WHEN: Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Old Mill Park

DETAILS: Exhibitors, food, vendors, educational programs, live music