Santa Monica Festival features music, food, and eco-friendly messages

This past Saturday, the city of Santa Monica held its 24th annual community festival. Members of the community, local businesses, and city officials gathered in Clover Park to enjoy and provide a wide range of family-friendly activities including sports, fitness, food, music, and energy conservation. The event, which attracted nearly 8,000 attendees, was planned by Santa Monica's Cultural Affairs division, in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. The annual event represents "all elements of the community," according to Ashley Rodgers, one of the event planners. Their focus was to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into this year's festival by offering a large bike station, several types of fitness workouts, and tips on conserving water and energy, all free of charge and available to all ages.

In addition to community outreach, the event also featured a community marketplace, gourmet food trucks, workshops, and live musical performances, among other activities. A wide range of musical entertainment was provided by local artists such as Angelou, Mariachi Divas, QUITAPENAS, P.O.P Unplugged, and others.

Another important factor of this year’s festival was environmental awareness — dozens of groups and foundations were present to help promote more sustainable options for residents in wake of climate change and California’s current drought.

Among these groups was Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE,) one of the leading partners for the festival. They hosted an “Eco Zone,” where people could "discover sustainably smart solutions for daily living." Groups in the Eco Zone also included: Solar Forward, Tree People, Heal the Bay, Eco-Motion, and others.

Beside a giant, black sphere of "CO2," city workers and Eco-Motion personnel engaged festival attendees with a myriad of information and activities dealing with everything from thermal energy to solar power.

"The city of Santa Monica has a long-standing reputation of being an international leader in sustainable city planning," said OSE employee Joel Cesare in regards to the importance of energy conservation. "We feel there's an important need around the world for cities and individuals to do more to decrease their energy footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change [so we can] make sure that the future of Santa Monica has the same quality of live as the current."

Going along with the theme of energy and water conservation, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown hosted a "Doggy Dishwasher Contest," to help encourage citizens to come up with new and innovative ways to save water, such as letting your pets clear off your dishes. Owners brought their dogs up to the stage and waited to see which one could clean off a plate of peanut butter first. Though the dogs performed well, Mayor McKeown admitted there are much more practical ways to conserve water and power.

Allison Ostrovsky, a cultural planner for the city of Santa Monica, said the purpose of these festivals is to "celebrate the city and all it has to offer by focusing on arts, culture and sustainability." She also described these events as "a showcase of the city." Her division, Cultural Affairs, is dedicated to "bringing the city's art scene to life for residents and visitors by supporting engaging and accessible cultural events for all ages throughout the year," according to their website. Ostrovsky said their mission is "a reflection of what's important to the city and the residents."