Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 11, 2014

Saturday festival all about dirt and Earth

TRAVERSE CITY — Mara Penfil likes dirt.

She likes to remind people that leaves fall from trees and turn into dirt, mushrooms grow in dirt, all kinds of organisms make a home in dirt.

For Penfil, dirt sends a message:

“Everything is a cycle,” Penfil said.

Penfil, a 2013 graduate of Northwestern Michigan College, is the lead coordinator of Dirt Fest at NMC’s Student Life Office.

This year’s festival is set for Saturday and is a celebration of Earth Day that includes music, workshops, local food and other activities all focused on the environment.

“As much as music and art can communicate important messages, it’s good to have discussions with people in the community who are already practicing different methods to make this world a better place,” Penfil said.

This will be the third Dirt Fest. Some changes are coming to this year’s event, including four bands and a science corner for with activities for children.

Penfil said she got the idea for the event because she loves music festivals, but noticed there are few opportunities for families to participate in such events.

“People of all ages and needs are welcome. We try to break down all those barriers to make education fun and accessible,” Penfil said.

People can attend workshops at the festival on topics ranging from composting, regenerative agriculture, and how to talk about climate change.

Saturday’s event will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. at NMC’s Welcome Center at the Health & Science Building.

Admission is free.

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