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Festival Offers Music and a Message

Staples High School junior Ben Myers thinks Club Green's Eco Fest has become a pretty decent Westport music festival. Now they just have to work on pushing the message behind the event.

“It is an easy medium to get the word out that these companies exist,” said Myers of the more than 30 exhibitors lining the edges of the Levitt Pavilion during this year's Eco Fest, held May 22. The idea is to have the entertainment draw the audience, which will then leave better educated about environmental concerns.

Getting the mostly high school crowd to participate in the booth activities has proven a challenge. This year they tried a scavenger hunt in exchange for food tickets. “It turns out people didn't want to be required to wander around,” said Myers.

As next year's Club Green co-president along with Nicole Brill, he hopes to find ways to work the message into the performance. Myers is considering making presentations on environmental topics between bands or showing movies like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Who Killed the Electric Car.” He credits both films with fostering his own interest in the environment.

Myer's will also have to worry about funding next year. The event was free to attend but at $8,000 to produce, not to host. The Green Village Initiative helped by sponsoring the event both years. This time, Club Green was able to offset some of the cost with $5,000 won in a Connecticut Light and Power contest. They hope the Club Green Store will make up the rest, despite having trouble selling shirts at $15 each.

Myers thinks they have a good chance of winning $20,000 at the next CL&P competition. “But we can't win a contest every year,” he said.

Event MC and Staples Senior Max Stampa-Brown agreed that the message was taking a back seat to the music. His own band, Max 'n Jeffrey performed. “I don't think people really perceive the growing environment problem.”

The closing act, Long Island pop-punk quartet The Overunder, was sponsored and paid for by Club Green. The rest of the 11 bands featured Staples High School students.

All of the food vendors used organic, and when possible local, ingredients. Booths ran the gamut from salesmen to demonstrations on how to make environmentally safe cleansing products. The Westport-Weston Health District presented on septic system awareness and showed the mockumentary, “Pump it Up Baby” in the nearby library's McManus room.

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