Queens Botanical hosts ‘Climate Arts Festival’ to celebrate Earth Day

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

A man dressed in a bee costume explaining the intricacies of how honeybees find pollen. A paper making station that used pulp, confetti and flower petals to make homemade paper. A farm tour that highlighted nature techniques for growing crops at home. These were just a few of the attractions at the Queens Botanical Garden’s “Climate Arts Festival” that was held on April 24, two days after Earth Day.

The event was a collaboration between the garden and the Southeast Queens Artists Alliance to spread awareness of the climate crisis and ways that people can get involved to help the environment. It combined the arts with natural sciences to inspire and entertain young and older visitors alike.

“Get inspired to make change,” the event page for the Climate Arts Festival read in part. “Join us in our partnership with Southeast Queens Arts Alliance (SEQAA) for a day at the Garden aimed to empower the community to collectively acknowledge, reflect on and face our international climate crisis. Immerse yourself in creative workshops, art exhibits, interactive performances and compost and farm tours and demonstrations.”

Visitors were welcomed to the festival from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m., though the gardens remained open perusal until 6 p.m.

Scattered around the botanical garden were small tents with arts and crafts projects, local merchant booths selling handmade creations and performers who dazzled their audiences with entertaining explanations of natural systems.

“Together we reckon with how the climate crisis is impacting our lives and adopt practical changes on a local level to counteract climate change–not just for Earth Month, but every day moving forward,” the event page for the festival read.

One of the arts tents was for making “flower crowns.” Volunteers and garden staff used bulletin board borders as the base of the crown, measuring it around the visitors’ heads. Then the crafters could use pipe cleaners, pom poms and tissue paper to create fake flowers and other designs to decorate their crowns with.

Another arts tent showed kids what beehives look like by using toilet paper tubes and colored paper to make cells in a hive. By rolling the colored paper into tubes, taping it closed and fitting it into the toilet paper roll over and over again, crafters were able to create the “cells” of the honeycomb.

Yet another bee themed craft was to make a honeybee itself. After coloring in and decorating a design of a bee on yellow cardstock, visitors then cut the bee shapes out and attached them to sticks.

A popular craft with the kids was making a “bug hotel” — a container filled with hay and bamboo tubes for bugs like lone carpenter bees and other creepy crawlers to hang out in.

Crafters were encouraged to decorate their hotels with the acrylic paint provided, and were allowed to leave their creations at the garden for the farm to use or to take them home to go in their own gardens.

In addition to arts and crafts, visitors could watch a performance about the earth. A performer dressed as the earth sang and danced alongside a performer dressed as the moon. They asked the audience what their favorite things about the earth were and sang about their own favorite parts.

People dressed in compost bags, bottle recycle bin and paper recycle bin costumes walked around the festival throughout the day, posing for photos and joining the earth and moon performance.

A local high school marching band also performed at the festival, entertaining a crowd with its sparkly black and gold costumes.

All in all, it was a day filled with arts activities, environmental education and family fun.