A block of crushed cans. Ask me about Springfest, and I remember the cans first.
It was a contest. A vendor was asking people to guess how many flattened cans were crushed together in this big block of metal. I looked at the cube, counted the number of cans I could see in a one-foot area, did a little multiplication, and then added a few hundred because I usually guess low in these kinds of contests. Dropped my guess in a box and went on my way.
I received an email a few days later. I’d won. I have no idea how many cans were in the block, and I don’t remember how many I guessed, but the $50 gift certificate made for a nice evening out with my wife.
It’s one of those silly, lucky things we like to brag about, like winning an NCAA pool, but it also brings back some of that county fair feeling I reveled in when I was a kid growing up on the western edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area. Home was a cross between country and city, and Springfest captures that.
It’s also a hoot. I spent much of my first Springfest trying to hustle up votes for Colvin Run Mill in a social media contest that eventually earned the historic site a $75,000 grant. That was a blast, doing spontaneous, silly things to draw attention to the contest and Colvin Run. Last year I was shooting video and photos for the Park Authority, which gave me a chance to wander throughout the event and get a true feel for it. That’s a memory of smiles, loads and loads of kids’ smiles. They were on the wagon rides, at the petting zoo, on the backs of the ponies they rode, at the food vendors and, of course, at the Park Authority displays of crafts and animals.
Springfest Fairfax is Fairfax County’s official celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day, a partnership of the Park Authority, Clean Fairfax and the Workhouse Arts Center. All year round, the Park Authority promotes care for the environment, volunteering, protecting native plants and wildlife, healthy lifestyles and quality of life. The festival is a celebration of those efforts. This year, that celebration is on Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.
This year it’s built on the theme “Healthy People-Healthy Planet,” and SpringFest will host the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Healthy Strides Expo for the first time. The Expo makes fitness a family fun event with free fun runs for all ages, an obstacle course, fitness games and activities, a free-play zone, healthy lifestyle exhibits and more.
Springfest also will include the annual presentation of an Arbor Day Proclamation that ensures Fairfax County will continue to be a Tree City USA site. There will be a morning tree planting at Occoquan Regional Park for folks looking to participate in an Arbor Day Community Service event, and other Arbor Day volunteer opportunities will be available.
Springfest also brings a free day of family-friendly environmental and health-focused games, activities, exhibits and entertainment along with opportunities for residents of all ages to celebrate our natural environment and healthy lifestyles. In the previous years I’ve gone, I’ve yet to see everything in a single day.
The Park Authority, other county agencies and local organizations will have exhibit tents on the central lawn with activities that open the door to visitors to create, learn and explore all things environmental.
Make sure the kids pick up an Environmental Passport at the Clean Fairfax tent (while supplies last). They’ll earn stamps and stickers from the exhibitors as they explore different tents. Return to Clean Fairfax on the way out, share what you learned, and receive a prize.
There are always live exhibit animals, and there will be pony rides and a bounce house. Billy B., Team Green World, and Under the Sea will provide headline performances, and the Fairfax County Restoration Project’s Environmental Film Festival will run all day. You’ll find native tree saplings, flowers and vegetables available at the SpringFest plant sale, and popular local food trucks will sell healthy meals and tasty treats.
Last year more than 5,000 residents attended SpringFest at the Workhouse. I’ll be one of the thousands returning to it again this year.
For more information, for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, and to sign up to be a vendor or exhibitor, visit www.springfestfairfax.org. The one-day event is presented by Clean Fairfax in partnership with the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Workhouse Arts Center, located at 9518 Workhouse Way in Lorton, VA.
Admission and parking are FREE.
Clean Fairfax is a 501 c 3 non-profit. The mission of Clean Fairfax is to encourage environmental stewardship and urban sustainability in Fairfax County, Virginia through education, programming, and community involvement.
Please visit the SpringFestFairfax.org site to sign up for volunteer opportunities.
Author David Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority.