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Sierra Club volunteers seek to minimize environmental impact of Paseo Arts Festival



Art festivals might be fun, but the events can be a filthy affair. Wrappers scatter and roll across the streets like tumbleweeds, swarms of flies attack dropped hot dogs, discarded aluminum cans and plastic bottles overflow at every trash can, and an otherwise eco-friendly art community seems to forget about the needs of the planet for the day.

Organizers of this weekend's Paseo Arts Festival have found another way. With the help of the local Sierra Club, organizers of the renowned bohemian arts festival hope to greatly reduce its impact on the environment.

"We are a green festival. We recycle over 90 percent of the trash that occurs during the festival, including all the aluminum and plastics," said Lori Oden, executive director of the Paseo Artists Association.

Sierra Club volunteers will blanket the grounds to ensure that recyclable material ends up in the appropriate place. Last year, festival volunteers collected 600 pounds of aluminum alone.

Festival organizers hope to pack the streets throughout the weekend, but with massive crowds come massive amounts of trash, which is why Oden is grateful that Sierra Club takes on the burden of handling the task of recycling the waste.

"The Sierra Club organizes it," she said. "We just put it in their hands and they gather all the volunteers."

The festival was founded 33 years ago and averages 40,000 to 60,000 visitors throughout its three-day run, said Oden, who doesn't anticipate an attendance decline this weekend, despite economic pressures.

"Most of the people who come down here have been coming for years, so I don't think the recession will hurt us at all," she said. "I believe that since we are a neighborhood festival, and have been part of the Oklahoma City community for 33 years, that we will have a great turnout. The recession might actually help us in that people aren't going to go out of town, but still need something to do."

This year's festival will feature more than 75 artists from across the region, most of which hail from inside the state. The festival's NOW: Emerging Artists Market will feature upcoming artists under the age of 30 selling works for $50 or less. A pair of stages set up on the northern and southern edges of the festival will host music, dance and performance art throughout the weekend, including The Lynda Tarpley Tappers, Rexall Rangers, Matt Stansberry, Ali Harter, Buffalofitz, Sugar Free Allstars, Joe Mack, Edgar Cruz and The Proprietors of the Earth.

Young festivalgoers will enjoy an expanded children's area.

"We will have paper mosaics, clay, spin art, in addition to paper plate theater, where children create a puppet-type thing," Oden said. "Storytellers are available to help them narrate stories with the characters they create."

The festival runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, with music running until 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and until 7 p.m. Sunday.

"?Charles Martin


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