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Published: May 11, 2013
NORWALK — Nature conservationists from across Fairfield County descended upon Cranbury Park on Saturday for the city’s seventh annual Norwalk Tree Festival.
Approximately 40 exhibits were featured in the event teaching locals the importance of preserving their environment, promoting area conservation groups and providing exciting activities for people of all ages.
“For a day that started out really bad for weather, people have learned a lot,” said Dan Landau, president of the Norwalk Tree Alliance, which sponsored the event.
Dark skies threatened to rain people out throughout much of the day, but that did not stop hundreds of residents from staying outside.
The air at the park was filled with smells of freshly grilled cheeseburgers and hot dogs, pulling people in to enjoy some delicious food while gaining a crash course in plants and trees.
To kick up the excitement, George Bell of Norwalk’s Cut ‘N’ Dry Sawmill brought his crew and a portable wood cutting machine to shape tree logs into floorboards.
“The festival’s a great show,” said Bell. “It helps people understand their trees and how to take care of them.”
As part of the celebration, the Norwalk Tree Alliance honored the city’s Public Works Director Hal Alvord with the 2013 Norwalk Tree Advocate of the Year. He received the award for his attempts to enhance the community’s environmental views.
In addition, a memorial tree and bench was placed in the park in honor of the alliance’s former president, Don Nelson, for his past work with the organization.
This year was the first time Stamford resident Carlos Lainz attended the event, but he said he already plans to go again next year.
“It’s great, I’m really surprised,” said Lainz, who went to the festival with his wife and 10-year-old daughter.
Lainz said he was impressed by the Cut ‘N’ Dry exhibit and a demonstration of how companies relocate trees to different spots in a yard.
According to Bruce Beebe, president of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, the festival is a way for groups like his to spread the word about their services.
The WLCT is a private, nonprofit organization working to preserve waterways, swamps, woodlands and meadows in Wilton.
The trust owns or holds conservation easements on 107 properties, including Millstone Farm, Slaughter Fields and Keeler’s Ridge Meadow, covering more than 770 acres.
“We’re all preaching the value of open space,” said Beebe.
In addition to the educational tents, face painting, tree climbing and toy stations were available for children.
The Westport nature center Earthplace, in coordination with the Westport Tree Board, had animal toys and wood pieces on display for children to play with and learn about wildlife and trees.
The Tree Board advises Westport’s tree warden and promotes the survival and restoration of shrubs and trees on town properties.
Associate director of Earthplace Laura Linton said the young children typically just wanted to play with the animal toys, but the older youth wanted to build things out of the wood.
“Everybody’s really enjoyed themselves,” said Landau.
For more information, visit www.norwalktreealliance.org.