Tarantulas and a tortoise greeted visitors to the Knoxville Zoo tent on the lawn just outside the Oak Ridge Civic Center. Visitors couldn't resist the chance to touch the tortoise, but there didn't seem to be anyone wanting to take a chance with the eight legged creature sitting in the palm of the volunteer's hand. And these two creatures weren't the only ones on display. A couple of tents away at the John Knox Center booth, program specialist Harry Gabe was telling children about the boa he was handling and how it had never had to hunt for its own food. Still, that and an explanation that the snake wasn't "slimy" didn't have anyone really wanting to handle the slithering animal in front of them.
While animals were a big part of many booths at the Earth Day Festival, there were booths promoting the Green Energy Smith, Keeping Anderson County Beautiful and even one promoting Oak Ridge Backyard Chickens. The focus on environmentally responsible practices, taking care of natural resources and even staying in shape (lots of active games for kids of all ages) make this an event people look forward to every year, although it seemed somewhat scaled back from years past, but maybe because it was spread out more on the grounds. Knoxville's Earth Day Festival was also set for the same day which may have accounted for the sparser crowds.
In a little over a month from now, the same area will be filled with vendors of all types as well as a large stage as the Secret City Festival gets underway. This year's headline entertainers are Eddie Money and Kix Brooks. The festival is June 13th and 14th. For more information visit www.secretcityfestival.com .