Hosted by the Marana Chamber of Commerce, the Earth Day Festival brought together the business community and the general public to celebrate local sustainability efforts and the widespread benefits of green practices. Guests tried samples of local food, companies displayed their eco-friendly technology and children enjoyed a variety of activities. The event was hosted at the Tucson Premium Outlets.

Logan Burtch-Buus

Sustainability is fun, as we learned Saturday during the Marana Earth Festival.

The event, held in a landscaped parking lot at Tucson Premium Outlets, attracted large and enthusiastic crowds who learned about energy-saving, smart use of resources, how to recycle and some of the great Marana foods made with products grown right here. 

Young attendees planted plants, made kazoos from recycled cardboard tubes, learned how solar power can be used to run lights and pumps, created art out of recycled items, popped keys off keyboards and found how to recycle the valuable metals found underneath.

Adults wandering through the Sustainability Tent talked to more than 35 exhibitors about a variety of topics, including solar power, energy-efficient windows and doors, no-chemical ways to get rid of pests and earth-friendly construction. 

Attendees of all ages enjoyed the Marana Foods tent, featuring some of the best fare Marana has to offer. David Serus, executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain, distributed samples of some of the best chile cheese tamales to be found anywhere. The Screamery provided samples of several of its ice creams, all made with cream from grass-fed cows. Laura Cortelyou, tourism and marketing manager for the Town of Marana, hosted a fascinating display of the area 4,000-year history as a food-producing region. She has started a gastronomy tour that visits ancient planting sites and contemporary enterprises featuring Marana-grown foods. Hand Picked Produce had an appealing display of fresh fruits and vegetables, while Sun Valley Growers literally picked leaves off a Moringa tree and gave them as samples of the health benefits from a nutritious fruit tree grown locally.

In the center of the festival was the Beer Garden, run by Catalina Brewing Co. with their new neighbors down the block, Button Brew House. Catalina brews beer using White Sonora Wheat, a heritage grain grown in Marana by BKW Farms.

We were pleased to have more than 70 business and organizations participating in this year’s event. They included the Town of Marana, Tucson Electric Vehicle Association, Jim Click Automotive, the Marana Unified School District, the University of Arizona and Pima County Cooperative Extension, Pima County College, the Marana Police Department, Marana Police Explorer Post 77 and Northwest Fire Station 34.

As part of the festival, Beacon Secure offered drive-up recycling and destruction of documents and an extensive list of small electronic devices, such as old cell phones, printers, hard drives, laptops, monitors and fax machines. Their two trucks collected 2.46 tons of items, a number that is certain to climb as a result of many businesses and individuals who had large volumes of items to get rid of and became aware of Beacon Secure through the festival. Beacon Secure arranged to receive their items for free at a later date.

We offered entertainment on our stage, including 96.1 KLPX (thank you Beth Simmons for your outstanding hosting!), two University of Arizona jazz music students, Diego Urias and John Hines and Mr. Nature’s Music Garden, who had young children singing, dancing, writing songs about nature and recycling and just generally having fun for the entire event. We love bees!

I’d like to thank our many investors. CalPortland was once again our lead sponsor and Sustainability Investor. Why would a large maker of cement, concrete, aggregates and other building projects support a “green” event? As Bill Jerald, CalPortland’s chief energy engineer explained on stage, energy costs money. The more they can save on energy, the better it is for the environment and for their bottom line.  

Tucson Premium Outlets also played a major role in our success. As the Presenting Investor, Tucson Premium Outlets made significant contributions in the form of their space, manpower and marketing. I thank them for their help. 

Thanks as well to these valued investors: (Education) Tucson Local Media, Anstar Productions Group, The Fairfax Companies (makers of Tank’s Green Stuff) and Too Busy Gals; (Earth) Beacon Secure, HSL Properties, Rosie on the House, Trico Electric Cooperative and Tucson Electric Power; (Living Green) 96.1 KLPX, ProEm Party and Event Rentals,  Republic Services and Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. 

I’d also like to thank our many exhibitors, all participating organizations, and members who donated raffle items, too many to list here.

Special kudos go to three people who headed up specific aspects of our event: Brooke Nowak, TMM Family Services Inc. and chairwoman of our Green Committee; Adrienne Ledford, Treasures 4 Teachers, who did a masterful job of organizing the Education Tent; and Teresa Urias of Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ, who so capably put  together and ran our Marana Foods tent. A big shout-out as well to Bill and Katie Starr of Anstar Productions Group, who tirelessly created, edited and re-fashioned our marketing materials.

Ed Stolmaker is the president and CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce.


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