The Amazing Earthfest – what is it, and why should I have an interest in any of the events it is sponsoring? These are questions that deserve some answers if you haven’t already established your own symbiotic relationship with the natural world that sustains us humans.

Earthfest, as the name implies, not only celebrates the wonders of Earth itself, focusing on our unique region of the vast Colorado Plateau, but delves into the challenges facing it’s future and therefore the future of mankind.

The Invocation to Sustainability at Angel’s Landing Outdoor Amphitheater at Best Friends on Mother’s Day, May 13, should not be missed. Mother Earth, who sustains us, will be honored by a Native American Pipe Ceremony by sundancers in the Lakota tradition. They will be accompanied by a master of the Native American flute, Arvel Bird, himself of Southern Paiute descent.

The ceremony recalls the Sioux expression, “mitakuye oyasin” – we are all related, and not only to each other, but to every creature, plant and inanimate object on this planet we share with them. We are also related in a spiritual way to non-living things, as well as the living. Does the warm red glow of the Vermilion Cliffs not comfort you? Are the billowing cumulus clouds of summer changing to a frothy amber with the setting sun not awe-inspiring? Do the cooling rains of the monsoon showers not refresh you? They all contribute to our well-being.

We take great pride and comfort in being related to our family members and friends, but often forget that we are related to everything that we have contact with in this world in some fashion. Being of superior intellect and the ability to manufacture sophisticated tools, our impact on the natural world is immeasureably greater than anything we live with on this globe. Taking care of the Earth and its inhabitants (excluding no-see-ums, of course) helps assure us that human life will be sustained. Believe what you will, but thousands of life forms have come and gone on this planet, and humans are not immune to extinction.

 So what does Earthfest have to do with any of this?

It all started over six years ago when a Maine transplant, Rick Csenge, came to Kanab and took his love and appreciation of his new surroundings to another level. He wanted to give something back to his new home and with little more than his drive and determination founded the Amazing Earthfest, a totally volunteer non-profit event. This sixth edition offers a multitude of events designed to inform, educate and encourage participation in activities pertaining to this wonderful environment.

Many documentary films will be offered at the Crescent Moon Theater focusing on both the beauty and challenges facing our various ecosystems. Movies like ‘Home,’ with spectacular aerial photography from around the world, and ‘Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction,’ a warning by scientists of the real threat to many of earth’s plants and animals during this century, are just a sampling of those to be aired.

Uplifting music honoring the Earth’s spirit will be presented by Joel Rosenberg conducting elite musicians; pianist Connor Chee, violinists Arvel Bird, Linda DeLuca and Mary Danzig, along with musicians Peter Danzig and Anna Jensen in an evening of chamber music at the Crescent Moon at 7 p.m., May 17. You don’t want to miss this performance.

For those more into folk music, Slickrock String Band, Kenny Hall and Otter Creek, along with cowboy poet Doug Keller, will be on the Cresent Moon stage on May 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Hometown favorites Mesozoic, Tumbleweedz and Slickrock String Band will play at the picnic in Jacob Hamblin Park on Saturday, May 19, which the whole family will enjoy.

Getting out into this inspiring landscape with experienced guides will provide hikers with the opportunity for personalizing their connection to our sandstone wonderland. 

A hike on the Cassidy Trail in Red Canyon with a Salt Lake City naturalist will take you into a proposed wilderness area. Marty Feely will lead hikes through the slot canyons of Wire Pass and the Buckskin Gulch on May 14 and up Hackberry Canyon and Yellow Rock on May 17. Charlie Neumann will point out geological features on a local hike along the Tom’s Canyon and Squaw Trails.  Misti Haines will lead rock art enthusiasts up the Vermilion Cliffs to the Mansard petroglyph site on May 15.

Other ways to get out and experience the natural world will be on several scheduled bicycle, ATV and horse rides over a variety of terrain – all with outstanding scenery.

The Juniper Art Gallery below the Heritage Museum is exhibiting area photographs taken by local photographers from 1-5 p.m. daily through the month of May.  Other artwork can be seen at the Rafter’s Gallery above Rocking V Restaurant and at the Bingham Gallery at the old Maynard Dixon residence in Mount Carmel, where there will be a special musical performance by Rosenberg, Chee and DeLuca at 7 p.m. on May 17.

Pipe Spring National Monument will conduct several natural and cultural resource programs throughout the week, which will provide another incentive to visit these historic grounds and learn about life on the Arizona Strip in the late 1800’s.

House Rock Valley off Hwy 89A will be the site of condor viewing, and a short hike the same day up the East Kaibab monocline from the historic Kane Ranch, which will be open for touring. Grand Canyon Trust’s Matt Williamson will speak of current management and restorative efforts on the Kane and Two Mile Ranches in the valley.

The importance of recycling cannot be overstated with everything from resource conservation to reduction in landfill impacts brought into play. Projects to enhance recycling efforts will be discussed on May 16 at Southwest Applied Technology College starting at 10 a.m. If you do nothing else for your environment, you should make the small effort to recycle packaging products and learn how it can be done in Kanab.

Topics on renewable and environmentally sustainable energy sources and other emerging technologies will be discussed by four energy experts at the Kanab Middle School on May 16 and should give those interested information on measures taking place to reduce our carbon footprint.

Hands on experiences will be available to those willing to get their hands a little dirty. Dr. Alan Titus will instruct participants in fossil preparation at the paleontology lab in the Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument headquarters on May 18 from 9 to 5.

Viewing straw bale and earthen plaster houses in various stages of development with the opportunity to ask questions about this conservation based building technique will be available on May 19 east of Kanab.

The Warm Fire of 2006 damaged segments of the Arizona Trail in the Kaibab National Forest. The Forest Service is asking for volunteers to help them rehabilitate a portion of the trail on May 17 near Jacob Lake. This project provides you a way of giving something back to the forest paths we enjoy.                                        

As with all of the events taking place out of town, carpooling will be available from Kanab.

Writer/activist Brooke Williams will lead a class for writers who wish to enhance their abilities to convey their experiences with place and their concern for public lands into the written word from 2-4 p.m. on Monday, May 14 at Crescent Moon.

For detailed descriptions of the scheduled events and films with their dates and times, pick up an Amazing Earthfest pamphlet at one of the various business locations in Kanab and surrounding communities or visit the website: www.amazingearthfest.com.