By Sarrah Peters
The 15th annual Etowah County Water Festival was held Friday, December 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m at the Wallace Drive Campus of Gadsden State Community College. About 1,400 fourth-graders from Etowah County schools attended the fun and educational event.
Students and teachers who attended the festival participated in three 30-minute hands-on activities throughout the day, where they learned about natural resources and general environmental awareness. One activity was the edible aquifer, in which kids built an ice-cream sundae with ingredients that represent different parts of the aquifer. Another exercise involved filtering dirty water with different methods. The last activity was building a water cycle bracelet, which the children got to keep. For the bracelet, each different colored bead represents a step in the water cycle.
Following the classroom sessions, students attended the Fishin’ Magician’s Eco-Magic Show, an environmentally-themed magic show. The 45-minute magic show was developed as a way to demonstrate the importance of clean water in a fun and exciting way.
All attendees and volunteers received a free Water Festival tee shirt that featured the winning design by Jeremiah Brand, a student at Carlisle Elementary School.
Among the volunteers were about 200 high school students from Gadsden City, Southside, Etowah County and Hokes Bluff schools. The high schoolers actually led the elementary students in the exercises, as well as served as escorts.
“Not only are the elementary students learning, but the high schoolers are getting a refresher,” said Lisa Dover of Keep Etowah Beautiful.
About $30,000 is spent each year on the festival. This amount includes supplies, a snack, transportation and the t-shirts.
The festival, designed to educate students and their families about all aspects of groundwater, was co-sponsored by Keep Etowah Beautiful, Gadsden State Community College, the City of Gadsden, the City of Rainbow City, the City of Hokes Bluff, the City of Southside, the City of Attalla, Gadsden Water Works, Sheriff Todd Entrekin, Alabama Power, the Neely Henry Lake Association, Model Tees, the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Imagination Place and many more.
Gadsden State Community College Professor Hugh Hammer contributed his time to put together 1500 water cycle bracelet kits with his family.
“He’s one of the big reasons we are able to this,” said Dover. “Everyone comes together to help us do this.”
In turn, Hammer credits the success of the Water Festival to the incredible planning of Keep Etowah Beautiful employees Lisa Dover and Donna Waddell.
“These two are awesome,” said Hammer.