Killy the kestrel, free music and the Mount Trashmore Challenge: EcoFest returns to Cedar Rapids

EcoFest 2022

NewBo City Market, April 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A rehabilitated male American kestrel in New York City’s Central Park. — Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons

Birds of prey, live music and hikes up Mount Trashmore are coming to Cedar Rapids on Saturday for EcoFest 2022, an Earth Day celebration to promote individual, community and worldwide action to achieve sustainability.

The event is back in-person after EcoFest 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, and EcoFest 2021 adapted with a virtual format. The festival will occur at the NewBo City Market and the Cherry Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

EcoFest began in 2011 with the merger of two Earth Day events, a NewBo art festival and an environmental program in the city’s South West area. The event is sponsored by the City of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency and Frontier Co-op, among others.

Local bands will perform at the Bankers Trust Stage, including the Sneezy Dollars, a folk/Americana band from Iowa City; Reggae Rapids, a classic reggae, hip-hop and new age gam music group; and Oceana, a folk rock band from Cedar Rapids.

The RARE Group, a nonprofit raptor rehabilitation organization, will host two live raptor programs in the courtyard behind the Cherry Building at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Their avian ambassadors — like Killy the American kestrel, Bano the barn owl, River the barred owl and Asio the eastern screech owl — will help educate people about raptor species and how we can help protect their natural habitats.

During the event, Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell will present the Green Homes Recognition Award to the top-performing neighborhood and quadrants in the Green Homes program.

For hikers, the festival will have several nature and forest walks. One will begin at the EcoFest booth at 1 p.m. led by Emelia Sautter of Good Medicine. At Mount Trashmore, staff members of the Solid Waste Agency will be on hand to tell the story of how a landfill was transformed into a recreational site and the highest peak in Linn County, as well as share information about recycling and composting. People can also sign up for the 2022 Trashmore Challenge, which will last from April to October.

The overlook pavilion on top of Mount Trashmore. — photo courtesy of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency

Inspired by the Mount Everest Challenge on Mount Maunganui in New Zealand, participants will track how many times they climb Mount Trashmore over six months; 140 trips up Trashmore covers the same distance as summiting Everest. There are other milestones during the challenge. For example, climbing Trashmore 90 times is the equivalent of climbing Denali, the highest peak in the North America, and 20 trips is like going up Mount Vesuvius, without the danger of volcano activity. (There are 47 gas collection wells to prevent any build-up of gases from the garbage below the greenery. Mount Trashmore may be scenic, but it’s still a landfill.) As participants reach each milestone, they qualify for various prizes. There’s a $40 registration fee for the challenge.

Other EcoFest events include an outside art show, featuring art created with recycled and repurposed materials; a Print Your Own T-shirt booth, where attendees create eco-themed shirts using T-shirts brought from home; a morning yoga class; free face paintings; free compost bags; and a drawing to win a bicycle, a SOKOL Outfitters or New Pioneer Food Co-op gift basket or an overnight stay at the Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center.