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Early Earth Day festival set for Saturday

Meredith Emerson

Meredith Emerson

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Outdoors lovers can start celebrating Earth Day early this Saturday with a fourth annual festival at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center in Buford.

From a road race to the dedication of a solar-powered emergency phone station, with an opportunity to recycle, organic cooking demonstrations, a display of alternative fuel vehicles and an outdoor concert, the event has something special for any environmentalist.

"The Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center's mission is to educate the community about protecting our environmental and natural resources while preserving our cultural heritage. Our annual Earth Day Festival helps reinforce that mission in a fun and family friendly way," said Jason West, the center's foundation's director of development. "This year's festival will feature numerous family activities, eco-friendly crafts, nature walks, recycling opportunities, food, music and the Eco-Expo, which showcases environmentally friendly products and services."

The emergency phone station, worth $4,500 according to a press release, was donated by Right To Hike Inc., a nonprofit founded in memory of Meredith Emerson, a Gwinnett woman who was abducted and murdered while hiking in the north Georgia mountains.

"In Meredith's memory, Right To Hike promotes hiking and trail safety. With that in mind, we believe that placing emergency phone stations on hiking trails will help people by providing assistance in the event of an accident or when someone is in need," said Brent Seyler, the organization's vice president.

The station will be located near a plaque and a tree planted in Emerson's honor.

Because it is solared powered, the station is self-sufficient and will connect any hiker in need with a 911 operator.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free, although the recycling opportunities have a charge.

For more information, visit gwinnettehc.org.

Race participants can register at www.active.com.