Even the cynical among us, those skeptical of the growing number of contrived holidays, can't argue too much with Earth Day. Sure, there's always been a granola crunch to the associated festivities — the smart money says that hemp jewelry will always be for sale at Earth Day — but, increasingly, there are practical and thoughtful components to the celebration.
To wit, this year at the Arkansas Earth Day festivities at the Clinton Presidential Park (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26), the winner of the “Innovate or Die” international design contest, sponsored by Google, Specialized Bicycles and more, makes its national debut. “The Aquaduct” is a bicycle that filters dirty water as the water is being transported, a design with obvious applications in impoverished areas without easy access to water purification.
Throughout the day, the Clinton Library and Heifer International will offer “green” tours of their buildings, both of which are rated LEED platinum, the highest environmental rating for a building.
Sustainable Alternatives will be on hand to accept regular recyclables (paper, plastic, aluminum, etc.) as well as items like cell phones and printers.
And of course there will be informational and retail booths, kids activities, an organized litter pick-up and music all day long, including the Arkansas Country Dance Association at 11:45 a.m. and local folk favorites the Damn Bullets at 1 p.m.
Those with daytime obligations still have an opportunity on Saturday to represent for the earth by drinking “eco-friendly” beer and wine and watching local models strut in “enviro-trendy” clothing and listening to “a rockin' green” line-up of local musicians at the Earth Day concert at the Arts Scene in North Little Rock, 7 p.m. to 11:15 p.m.
Three fashion show segments, with clothes provided by Tallulah, Paddywack's, Freckled Frog and Box Turtle, divide the four-hour concert. Pop-rock singer/songwriter Bryan Frazier kicks off the night at 7 p.m. The Stone Trio follows at 7:30 p.m., with local rap favorite Epiphany at 8 p.m. The first fashion show segment happens at 8:30 p.m., followed by post-punks the Moving Front at 8:45 p.m. Another fashion show segment happens at 9:30 p.m. Then, throwback rapper Rockst*r gets the crowd moving at 9:45 p.m. A final fashion segment begins at 10:15 p.m., followed by a closing performance by nu-soul singer Butterfly.
The best emcees in town, brother duo Ron Mack and Razormack.com, host the event, with g-force manning the turntables and Rodney Block offering up guest trumpet spots.
Meanwhile, Fayetteville hosts a rival festival that isn't Earth Day, but still promises to be pastoral. For more than 26 years, Dickson Street merchants have celebrated warm weather and flowers blooming with Springfest, a weekend of live music, crafts, food and kiddie activities. If you're not from Northwest, don't be ashamed if you've never heard of the festival. This year's line-up includes things like a dog parade, UA Math and Science Kids Booth and a Guitar Hero tournament. But this year, the festival has an ace in the hole: the Dickson Street Music Festival, two days of big-name acts.
On Friday, Southern fiddle hero Charlie Daniels headlines with classic rockers .38 Special and upstart alt-country favorite Shooter Jennings (Waylon's son).
Saturday offers swamp rockers Little Feat, sonic collagists Michael Franti and Spearhead and the biggest WTF? booking in recent memory in Arkansas, Sonic Youth.
This might be the noise rock pioneers' first trip to Arkansas — at least it's the first show they can remember. Nearing their 30-year anniversary and with nearly 20 albums in their discography, SY remains as unconventional and fiery as ever. Tickets to the festival are $30 per day or $50 for Friday and Saturday.