BENNINGTON — Hundreds turned out for Saturday's inaugural All-Species Day.
The community event, a celebration of the earth and its vast number of inhabitants, brought food, music, art and environmental workshops to the downtown.
Bill Thwing and David Durfee were there representing Bennington350.org, one organization which attended the event to spread a message of environmental consciousness. Both men cited scientific evidence that there is a mass extinction taking place.
"We're playing with fire," Thwing said. "I think people are beginning to understand that more."
Both men said local efforts are necessary to make change.
"We don't just need to turn Bennington around," Thwing said. "We need to turn the country around, we need to turn the whole world around. It's a very big job and it begins one step at a time."
The downtown festivities took place at the Hart Lot on Main Street, across from TD Bank. Half a dozen bands performed for the crowd. Local farms, food and drink, and craft vendors showed their wares while environmental-focused groups promoted their cause. Children and adults were being encouraged to contribute to a community mural.
Following the afternoon activities was a talk delivered by Karenna Gore, the director for the Center for Earth Ethics and former Vice President Al Gore's oldest daughter. Gore also addressed the crowd mid-afternoon on Saturday, speaking about the work of her organization and the role of humans in the environment. And the day was topped off with music and merriment at Ramunto's Pizza.
By mid-afternoon, local reggae infusion band Rebel Alliance was spreading what one crowd member declared "funky, crunchy beats." Attendees of all ages, from college students to families with young children to baby boomers swayed to the beat.
The day's weather put Jeanne Davis, president of the Bennington County Beekepers Club, in good spirits.
"I've just had the most wonderful conversations with people," she said. "There's a growing awareness of environmental issues among the general public and it's lovely to see that and to share my piece of it."
At her booth, attendees could view a hive of honey bees through glass. Those who stopped by could also try a sample of RAW honey and creamed honey, pick up literature about the role bees play in the life of other species, and how to plant honey bee-friendly gardens.
All Species Day sponsors included: Bennington Inter-faith Coalition, Greater Bennington Peace & Justice Committee, Bank Of Bennington, Cake Gallery, Holy Cow, Bringing You Vermont, Humanity In Concert, Healing Winds, Heart of the Matter, Green Spa and Panache.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979