Earth Day

Brothers Zach and Parker Anderson check out the shells of the freshwater mussels at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries booth on last year’s Earth Day Celebration in Abingdon.

ABINGDON, Va. — An annual event that draws more than 2,000 people to Abingdon each year will honor Earth Day, a global holiday celebrated in communities throughout the country during April.

“Sustainability: What Does It Mean?” is the theme for the 2019 Earth Day Celebration in Abingdon that will feature as many as 60 nonprofits, private groups, local businesses, educators and state and federal agencies, all sharing information about environmental issues and how we can work together to preserve our resources.

The admission-free celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, will be held at the Fields-Penn House on Main Street across from the Abingdon Farmers Market, which opened for its regular season last week.

The road from Cummings Street to the crossover at the Abingdon Farmers Market will be closed to vehicles during the event.

Many organizations will offer giveaway items during the day.

According to Tom McMullen, an organizer of the event sponsored by Sustain Abingdon, 80% of the participants are families with children. “It’s a great learning opportunity for families and a kid-friendly event that teaches children how they can help the environment and nature.

“We hear a lot about sustainability,” said McMullen. “My definition of the word is to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.”

The following is a partial list of activities that will take place at the Earth Day Celebration in Abingdon.

For the Kids

A free Kids Zone area on Remsburg Drive will feature an inflatable slide, free games, prizes, popcorn and cotton candy.

Members of the National Honor Society at Abingdon High School will assist with activities and offer face painting, and Hambones Entertainments, of Bristol, Virginia, will do balloon twisting for animals and shapes of all kinds.

Other ‘think green’ activities

In an effort to promote water conservation, participants are invited to make their own rain barrels to take home. The workshop is sponsored by Sustain Abingdon and led by members of the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable. Advance registration is required for this activity by calling 276-525-4542 or emailing

The celebration will also feature live entertainment. Pearly and Friends — costumed as a mussel, a damselfly, a darter fish and a hellbender — will perform onstage throughout the day on Remsburg Drive, singing and talking about the importance of keeping rivers clean. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service donated funds to Upper Tennessee River Roundtable for the costumes that were made by Amanda McMullen, of Abingdon, and Linda Hinchey, of Saltville. Students from Grace’s Studio of Motion and Dance will also perform onstage.

Workshops and demonstrations sponsored by local organizations will teach attendees about the environment of Southwest Virginia and give them strategies they can use to focus on sustainability in all aspects of life.

Some of the events will focus on wildlife: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will present information about sustainable management of wildlife populations, and the Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center will exhibit freshwater mussels, which are native to the area. Visitors can also get information on how to grow their own gardens through the Southern Appalachian Plant Society, which will give tips on pollinator plants and pest management. Recycling will be the focus of the Virginia Master Naturalists, who will share creative ideas to repurpose common household, single-use products, and guests can take home free trees from the Abingdon Tree Commission and sample flower seeds from the Washington County Seed Savers. Finally, Whitetop Yoga in Abindon will walk visitors through some yoga poses for an easy way to exercise.

Donations requested

Visitors are asked to bring nonperishable food items for a food drive to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.

Other items needed are pet supplies, including food, bedding, towels, Dawn detergent and bleach, all of which will go to C.C. Porter Animal Shelter. Donations of gently used shoes are also needed for a project with Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful.

People who donate at least two of these items will receive a free gift, while supplies last.


The Town of Abingdon will also provide a document shredding and drop-off area for electronic waste (e-waste) in front of the Arts Depot.

Any item that has a power-cord or uses batteries is considered e-waste. E-waste includes, but is not limited to, laptop and desktop computers, CRT and LCD monitors, hard drives, modems, plug-and-play devices, printers/scanners, copiers, commercial telephone equipment, fax machines, power backups, power transformers, miscellaneous electronic business equipment, wires, cables, circuit boards, video game systems, DVD/VCR players, microwave ovens, televisions and small electronic household appliances.

Items with compressors, such as refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers, cannot be accepted.

Other household hazardous materials, such as batteries, chemicals, petroleum products and fluorescent light bulbs, should be taken to MXI Environmental Services on Old Trail Road in Abingdon during their annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 11.

For more information on the Earth Day Celebration, please contact Sarita Moore of the Town of Abingdon Sustain Abingdon Committee at 276-628-4321 or visit the Sustain Abingdon website at or follow them on Facebook at

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at

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