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23rd Annual Endangered Species Faire - May 2002

(Above) Crawly-composting: Fairegoers investigate the benefits of worm compost at an education booth.

Drumbeats from a 500-year-old Valley Oak called children of all ages to Cedar Grove in Bidwell Park on the first Saturday in May. They gathered to open the 23rd annual Endangered Species Faire, California's largest, oldest environmental educational fair north of Sacramento. Butte Environmental Council, with the help of the California Department of Education had once again issued the call to the community to come together and teach each other everything we know about the way that animals, humans, the land, air and water interact with one another and affect each other for good or ill.

The community responded with presentations, games and activities that educated Faire participants about the cycles of nature and how we are part of these cycles and affect them as they affect us. Schoolchildren and their teachers, community non-profits, university students and professors, park and forest rangers and other government agencies all contributed their pieces of the puzzle. Visitors were led on a tour of evolutionary change by students from Hooker Oak Elementary School. Two dedicated ten year olds from Ophir Elementary School in Oroville offered the makings of turtle necklaces and taught their peers and elders about how the deteriorating health of the ocean threatens these ancient creatures. As they visited the 37 educational booths, visitors smashed rocks and discovered fossils, identified tracks of local wildlife and tried to answer questions about the flora and fauna that surround them. Visitors gathered at the stage to get up close and personal with a fox, a coati mundi, a teenage tortoise of 50 years, and an abundance of beautiful snakes that they learned to understand instead of fear.

A beautiful red bicycle from Pullin's Cyclery was raffled off. Delicious tortillas from Shadetree Restaurant, strawberry shortcake from Upper Crust Bakery and crepes from Guzzetti's Catering kept fairegoers well fed. The Faire featured a live soundtrack provided by the talents of Alphabet Posse and Make It So, two local bands with harmonious folk and bluegrass roots. The White Eagle Singers and Dancers from Four Winds Indian Education expressed and demonstrated Native American awareness of the cycles of nature. Accompanied by the eclectic sounds of Sekun Naycher, fairegoers became Mother Earth, Condor, Turtle, and other creatures of the land, sea and air by becoming Kathy Faith's puppeteers in a magical final parade around Cedar Grove. Another Endangered Species Faire had come and gone. Another Chico memory had been created.

Special thanks to the following groups, organizations and businesses:

California Department of Education, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico News and Review, Friends to Restore Earth's Environment, Northern California News, Printed Image, The Barris Family, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Butte Natural Distributing, Cabs 4 Kids, Calistoga Spring Water, Cherokee Preservation Society, Durham Electric, Ed's Printing, KZFR/Golden Valley Broadcasters, Hogan's Huts, Pullin's Cyclery, High Sierra Sound and Stage, Woodstock's Pizza, Small Town Sound, York Publishing