The Arkansas Earth Day Festival returns, expanded. 

The North Shore Riverwalk keeps it down to Earth.

With this being the "arts and entertainment" section and all, we have to ask: Is there anything more gorgeous and, in its own way, artistic than a spring afternoon ripe for the admiring? Is there anything more entertaining than a breeze in your hair?

Usually, this page of our paper is dedicated to keeping you holed up inside clubs for music, theaters for plays, bars for boozes. But now that Old Man Winter has shimmied his skinny butt to Who Cares Where, it's time to get outside again.

(For real, though: You're pasty.)

One of the biggest outdoor events of the spring/summer sun-worshipping season, the Arkansas Earth Day Festival, returns to North Little Rock's North Shore Riverwalk on Saturday, April 23.

The free festival gets underway at 10 a.m. and the organizers at the Arkansas Earth Day Foundation are expecting upwards of 20,000 visitors throughout the course of the day, which would be by far the largest draw in the day-long event's eight years.

The proverbial "poop" goes down at 11 a.m. when the festival participates in a worldwide, Guinness Book of World Records-sanctioned attempt to set a diaper changing record with "The Great Cloth Diaper Change."

Arkansas Earth Day Foundation co-director Sally Mengel warns: "It could be really stinky. It could be really funny." But she assures one thing: "There'll definitely be a lot of cute baby bottoms."

For kids out of diapers, the festival offers 20-plus activities, including a massive petting zoo with everything from chickens to goats to snakes, all donated from Heifer International, Dunbar Community Garden and Arkansas 4-H programs; a giant maze constructed from eco-friendly boxes from Little Rock's environmentally-minded moving company, Go Green Box; and, of course, a sweet climbing wall.

Adults have a slew of options during the festival, as well. More than 20 area merchants will man booths to offer eco-friendly products and services, and environmental community organizations, non-profits and missions will offer information on how to green up.

Even the furrier parts of your family are invited: Dogs are encouraged to take part in the fun.

Earth-friendly food features on the menu with celebrated area food-on-wheels operations Green Cart Deli, Green Cuisine and The Food Truck.

A solar energy-powered music stage offers up a soundtrack for the day, featuring "eco-smooth-jazz" from flutist Kevin Maxon; award-winning folk-pop from Sarah Hughes Band, jazz-tinged acoustic folk from Memphis' Grace Askew and more.

What's in store for the future? Co-director Mengel says the foundation is aiming to expand the festival into a week-long event with bike festivals, enormous potlucks and, if we thirsty adults are lucky, a booth featuring sustainable craft beers from around the state.



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