COOS BAY — The Coos Watershed Association hosted its second annual Mayfly Festival this Saturday in Mingus Park. The festival, which highlights the importance of the watershed and its vital role in the community, provided free admission to anyone interested in learning more about the local ecosystem.
Alexa Carleton, the education program leader with Coos Watershed, said the festival is meant to get people together to learn about science, nature and the watershed.
“We want people to leave feeling more connected to what’s going on in our community,” said Carleton. “We put a lot of extra focus on kids and helping them understand how nature works.”
According to the festival’s website, they chose a mayfly as the central symbol due to its highly valuable placement in the food chain and its connection between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The Coos Watershed Association has operated for over 20 years in the county working with landowners and policy-makers to help manage and restore the natural resources in the watershed.
Booths included educational displays from the South Slough Reserve, Coos Art Museum, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Surfrider and the Coquille Watershed Association among others. Attendees were encouraged to visit each booth by being given a map of the Coos Watershed to be stamped by each booth they saw. The completed maps were then submitted to be entered for a raffle prize.
In addition to the booths, the festival showcased a yoga obstacle course, a species parade of insects collected near the Mingus pond, live music performances and a silent auction. The Banana Slug String Band, which has performed for over 30 years, was the festival’s main stage performer. The band played a variety of educational music targeted to help engage kids to learning more about the environment.
Marine debris artist Elizabeth Roberts said having a festival like this really shows how connected everyone is to nature. The independent artist who partnered with Surfrider for the festival has been making art out of plastic and trash for years.
Her booth included coloring pages of various animals that have been impacted by plastic pollution for children to color in. Roberts said she hopes the art project of coloring and gluing pieces of plastic to the pages will shed some awareness of the issue.
“I’ve been making art since I was in grade school,” said Roberts. “Hopefully I can educate and encourage people to come up with alternative ways to using single-use plastic.”
Comment cards were also handed out to festival attendees to help improve next year’s event and provide feedback on the day’s activities.