Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction helped the area celebrate Earth Day on April 30th by hosting their annual expo and Paint the Rain! Barrel Decoration Competition. This year’s expo theme, “The Climate is Changing…So Should We”, helped share more about the importance of a clean environment and provided community members the chance to learn more about how they can help in their area. As well as, ask questions to local experts, and enjoy live entertainment and activities.
The family-friendly event was held at the Porter County Expo Center from 9 a.m.- to 1 p.m. and took place for the first time in nearly four years due to the pandemic and remodeling of the expo center.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the community at large to get together and recognize mother earth and all of her glory,” Erika Mihalek, Public Relations Coordinator for the Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction district said. “We have a variety of vendors here to spotlight eco-friendly products, and businesses that share good best practices for the environment,” she added.
Schools from all around the Northwest Indiana region took part in the annual barrel decorating competition this year. Students from Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties shared their creativity with the community by using environmentally friendly materials to illustrate an earth theme on their barrels. Each attendee had the chance to view the 30 entries and vote on their favorite. The winner, announced at the conclusion of the event, was awarded a $150 cash prize.
“I am so excited that we are back. The rain barrels are amazing and creativity in Northwest Indiana is so alive. It’s so hard to vote for one,” Keri Marrs Barron, Executive Director for the Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction district said. “We have so many great things happening today, we are really encouraging people to be part of this,” she added.
Over sixty vendors joined the expo to highlight their work and share educational resources with attendees. While visiting the vendor booths, families had the chance to shop for environmentally friendly products and gather complimentary seeds and bulbs for their own gardens. The expo even welcomed special guest Smokey the Bear, who mingled with the crowd and posed for pictures.
“We came to tell folks about all of the things we could offer the community. Getting people out into the field with us or having them help us from home if they aren’t members with us. They become a citizen science part of it,” said Annette Hansen, who represented the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. “We are really excited to share our upcoming fairy festival with everyone, which helps us raise money for our conservation work that we do with children,” she added.
Expo guests also had the opportunity to catch two shows from Silly Safaris, Indianapolis-based animal conservation, and education company. During their interactive shows at 10 a.m. and noon, Silly Safaris featured a variety of animals and provided insight into their natural habits, how to stay safe around them, and even show off a few of their tricks.
Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction is already planning next year’s Earth Day event and is looking forward to celebrating with the community again in 2023.
To learn more about Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction visit www.portercountyrecycling.org