A film festival, a 36-hour hackathon and free scuba diving lessons in a 20-by-30 foot pool are just some of the attractions you can expect if you show up to to the free Earth Day celebrations at Fair Park this week. Earth Day Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education and awareness, will hold its seventh annual EDTx exposition there from April 21-23.
The film festival, EARTHxFilm, kicks off its inaugural year by screening 30 films and emerging media projects that explore environmental issues. EarthHack, copresented by EDTx and HackDFW, will involve 1,200 participants, roughly 40 percent of whom come from out of state. Also new to the 2017 expo is E-Capital Summit, an invitation-only event that will provide a platform for early startup companies to showcase their green technology solutions and connect with potential investors.
Ryan Brown, the CEO of Earth Day Texas, says events like the e-capital summit reflect the genesis of the organization’s mission, which is “to get business leaders in the same room as environmental leaders” and precipitate change. Several new conferences and special events were formed with this goal in mind, such as a legal symposium comprising 300 attorneys, an alternative fuel vehicle summit and a two-day smart Texas revolution conference, which Brown says is focused on making Texas “the smart cities leader in the country.”
On Friday evening, EDtx, EarthxFilms and Global Green USA will present the EarthxGlobal Gala, encompassing a “green carpet,” seated dinner, awards ceremony and silent auction to benefit Earth Day Texas’s year-round slate of educational programs and youth filmmaking workshops. Brown says that the Santa Monica-based organization Global Green helped bring some eco-celebrities to the event, “which is all focused around stewardship to the environment.”
Returning highlights from the 2016 expo that are open to the public include sustainable food and beer gardens, live music, an interactive Lego Build the Change station and Tiny Houses, which Brown says will expand to three tiny house “villages” this year. Admission to the villages is $5 per person, and tiny house owners will be on-site to answer questions from “DIY-ers and serious buyers,” according to the website.
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Brown also notes that this year’s event will feature an expected 850 exhibitors and attract at least 150,000 attendees, up from 790 exhibitors and 130,000 visitors in 2016.
“We are headed to becoming a destination event for this discussion,” Brown says. “We are the largest in the world doing it at the moment, and we’re going for a national and international reach.” He mentions Mayor Mike Rawlings’s letter in the event guide, which notes that EDTx is the second-largest hosted event in Dallas after the State Fair.
“For Dallas, and for this community, I think it’s paramount for us to have an event like this,” Brown continues. “And it shows the rest of the world, and especially this nation, that if we can do it in Texas, we can do it anywhere.”
Earth Day Texas, Fair Park, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday, free, earthdaytx.org.