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Earth festival planned

A new festival seeks to showcase both cultural and horticultural treasures in the city of Suffolk.

The first Suffolk Earth and Arts Festival will be held April 22 at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, 3488 Godwin Blvd. The annual Spring Plant Sale held by Suffolk Master Gardeners Association will also be featured at the event.

The church is allowing the organizers to hold the event on their property in celebration of Earth Day. Co-organizer Meredith Alphin said she and her friends spent years traveling for “cool” events across Hampton Roads and wanted to organize such an event for their own city.

Alphin is manager of the church development initiative Hope For Suffolk, and her friend Michelle Clay is secretary to the head pastor.

“We’re both Suffolk natives and proud of Suffolk,” Alphin said. “We wanted to start creating the cool culture here in Suffolk with what we have here locally.”

About 60 different arts and crafts vendors will offer pottery, painting, and other art. The Library2Go bookmobile will be there with children’s activities. Seoul757 Korean tacos, Red River Smokehouse and Harper’s Table gourmet food will be enjoyed by attendees.

Several live musical acts will fill the event with folksy acoustic sets, fiddle strings and banjo guitars, according to Alphin. Virginia Beach musician Wynter Poe DePriest will be among the performers.

“She’s got a great voice,” Alphin said. “Her music is real fun and folksy, and she’s got a great stage presence.”

Free workshops will be held during the event for homebrewing and gardening. One workshop will be presented by a woman with butterfly expertise.

“She’ll talk about different plants you can plant to attract the butterflies, and kind of create a butterfly oasis,” Alphin said.

Suffolk Master Gardeners will bring more than 800 native plants for their Spring Sale. James “Jim” Winters, the co-president of the Suffolk Master Gardeners Association, said members cultivated most of the plants themselves.

These plants are native to area and best suited for the local climate, Winters said.

“They are drought resistant and heat tolerant,” he said.

Dozens of terrariums will be on sale, with different plants and a variety of sand and rock colors. Those that want to build their own terrariums may purchase do-it-yourself kits.

Master Gardeners will prepare fudge, brownies, cupcakes and cookies for their popular bake sale.

“They can wander around and eat some cookies while they look at the plants, one of my favorite things to do,” Winters said.

He said the Master Gardeners have a very good relationship with the church and gladly joined with the festival, as the two events seemed like an obvious match.

Alphin said the plan for this first event was to start small, with the goal of making it an annual tradition.

“We really want to be a platform to create a cool culture in Suffolk,” she said. “We want people from surrounding areas to come to Suffolk to experience what Suffolk has to offer.”

The festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the spring plant sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit www.suffolkearthandartsfest.com and www.suffolkmastergardener.org for more information.