Music, crafts and lots to learn at Audubon Zoo’s Earthfest Saturday _lowres

Photo provided by Audubon Zoo -- Kids try out the crafts during EarthFest in 2015. The celebration, included with zoo admission, has learning and fun for alll ages.

Earth Day doesn’t arrive for another month, but the Audubon Zoo will host its own version a little early.

In an attempt to take advantage of the cooler weather and avoid April showers, the zoo (6500 Magazine St.) will celebrate Earth Fest on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.

For more than 20 years, organizers have pulled together music, food, crafts and exhibitors to help New Orleans families learn how to be friendly to the environment. The event is included in admission to the zoo.

“This year we have over a dozen exhibitors who are coming to talk about how families can pursue more sustainable living and things we can do to save the Earth,” said Director of Education Projects Brenda Walkenhorst. “We’re going to do recycling, teach guests about water conservation —it’s just going to be a fun day to celebrate the earth before Earth Day. We have live music, food and crafts, and, as with all great festivals, we have the zoo and all of the animals.”

The exhibitors include Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Audubon Nature Institute Insectarium, EMR-Southern Recycling, Audubon G.U.L.F., Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network Rescue and Stranding Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Wetland Watchers, Audubon Zoo Nature Club, Audubon Zoo Bee-utification Team and many more.

When guests arrive, they will be given a game called Earth Quest. It will require participants to visit each of the exhibitors’ booths and ask questions that will teach them about sustainable living. Prizes are up for grabs for the particularly astute.

While games might seem as if they’re aimed at children, Walkenhorst insisted the event is for everybody.

“A lot of it is also directed at adults and families about how they can do a better job of doing things that are a little more earth friendly,” she said. “It’s a day that is really family oriented because we have activities for all members of the family.”

Winners of the Ronald McDonald House Crescent City Talent Showcase will perform for the first two hours of the festival they will then be followed by musical sets from The Anteeks, Rich Collins—who will also headline a full day’s worth of events at the Capital One Pavilion — and the house band.

On top of the typical Audubon concessions, Ms. Dee’s Catering Cuisine and Heaven’s Kitchen Catering will sling extra types of grub—from fried chicken wings and crawfish rice to shrimp and corn bisque. If you’re feeling crafty, NOLA Wax hands and Crafts with Rachel will provide multiple options for children and adults alike.

Finally, the event provides an opportunity for the local organization Confront and Conquer to collect insect repellent to send to impoverished areas of Brazil in order to combat the recent Zika outbreak there. Collection sites can be found outside the front gate of the Audubon Zoo.

It will be a day that is both educational and entertaining.

“I suggest people come out to Earth Fest and learn about what they can do to save the planet. It’s a lot of fun. If the weather is great, which is what we’re hoping for, you’re going to have great animals and new exhibits to explore as well.”

For those still on the fence, Walkenhorst provided one last incentive.

“It’s also the first day that Cool Zoo opens up with the lazy river,” she said, “so you can also bring your swimming suit, float around and take care of the earth at the same time.”