If you’ve flirted with solar panels, a compost bin or an electric car in the past, the Green Neighbor Festival on May 12 is the place to finally commit.

Hood College received the green light from the city of Frederick for the second year in a row to take over Culler Lake for a day of food, music, displays and workshops for homeowners and renters looking to make their lives a little more sustainable, said event coordinator Susan Simonson. The event will host local green business vendors as well as electric cars owned by members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C.

“Being green can be accomplished in small steps, and coming to a festival like this — people can take back [home] so many small steps toward a more sustainable household,” Simonson said.

The festival will kick off at 9 a.m. with a bike tour of downtown Frederick with local business The Bicycle Escape and city Sustainability Manager Jenny Willoughby.

Riders will visit homes with rain barrels, rain gardens and other sustainable practices, with the goal of giving people ideas to bring back to their own homes, Willoughby said in an email. The city is offering discounts to help city residents adopt some of the practices, including $20 compost bins and stormwater-management utility fee credits.

For residents who may not yet know what changes they want to make, just enjoying a ride with neighbors on a Saturday morning can be a good place to start.

“A bike ride is a fun way to bring people together to learn about what’s happening in their neighborhoods and to learn from and meet their neighbors,” Willoughby said in an email.


The goal of the Green Neighbor Festival is to connect residents to local green businesses.

Simonson has coordinated with Middletown resident and green enthusiast Linda Norris-Waldt to bring the county’s first Green Frederick Directory to the festival. The directory includes businesses and organizations that each tackle a different service for which it can be difficult to find a sustainable mainstream provider.

The directory will pre-launch on Earth Day, April 22, and it will officially launch at the Green Neighbor Festival on May 12, Norris-Waldt said.

“I would really like this festival to promote green businesses,” said Simonsson.

The Green Neighbor Festival is completely free, including a series of 10- to 15-minute “Green Neighbor Quick Tip” workshops that will be hosted throughout the day. Visitors will also be able to drop off hard-to-recycle products — such as sneakers, lithium ion batteries and eyeglasses — at several vendor booths.

Food trucks and live music — sponsored and coordinated by the Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise — will also join this year’s lineup alongside a display of electric vehicles on West College Terrace adjacent to the lake.

The Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C., plans to bring a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt and several Tesla models to the event for visitors to sit in and get a feel for, said local member and Frederick County Sustainability Commission member Ron Kaltenbaugh.

The group is made up of early adopters of the technology who are enthusiastic about sharing statistics and testimonials about their electric vehicles. And “getting butts in the seats” has proven to change people’s minds when it comes to electric vehicles, said Kaltenbaugh, who drives a Nissan Leaf.

The group will have handouts for people to review the range and efficiencies of the various cars currently on the market. While their members include owners of the Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model X and Tesla Model 3, they try to also show that electric vehicles are accessible for many people.

“There’s Leafs, Bolts and Volts and other ones that are ready for the prime-time, middle-class buyer, too,” Kaltenbaugh said.

Simonson said the event expects to attract over 1,000 people to Culler Lake between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to the various events.

The day will be capped off with a screening of “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” as part of the inaugural Green Film Festival at Hood College in conjunction with the Green Neighbors Festival. The film is sponsored by the Frederick Zero Waste Alliance, Envision Frederick County, Sierra Club-Catoctin Group and Hood College.

“I really think folks can find something new here,” Simonson said.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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