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EcoFest Encinitas, the longest-running environmental fair in North County, is gearing up for its annual one-day event celebrating eco-friendly businesses and sustainable practices in a family-friendly atmosphere. Event is Sunday, Oct. 9, at Cottonwood Creek Park. Courtesy photo/John Gjata
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EcoFest Encinitas at Cottonwood Creek Park this weekend

Want a hands-on demonstration of how to be more eco-conscious? Stop what you’re doing and head to the EcoFest Encinitas this Sunday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cottonwood Creek Park.

Our area’s longest-running community environmental family fun event has been lovingly organized by a group of like-minded and dedicated individuals passionate about sustainability and educating the public.

The brainchild of longtime community activist Bob Nanniga, the event is now spearheaded by John Gjata and a group of global caretakers.

“We hope to have a good crowd come by foot, e-bike, bike, or transit to enjoy, learn, and be inspired — then take that inspiration home and spread it to the world,” Gjata said. “Our fantastic exhibitors, as usual, will pass their knowledge and engage with patrons — it will be extraordinary for people to be part of our global awareness effort through this interactive event at Cottonwood. We are small but mighty.”

Meant to inform and inspire the participants on how to care for the planet and ourselves, this no-cost event has made special arrangements for festival-goers to pick up an electric bike with a free day pass around downtown Encinitas courtesy of BCycle.

Check out for more information on how to get a voucher and join in the fun of an e-bike rodeo being planned, along with e-bike valet parking offered at the event. Bring your reusable water bottle and receive a free event drawing ticket.

The merchants have been carefully vetted and are primarily local businesses encouraging visitors to be integral to the zero-waste, zero-emission effort for the day. They will highlight how they can be better stewards of the environment and demonstrate sustainable practices in their products, services, and corporate habits.

Hearing the call of the event organizers as well as the whisper from Mother Earth, the Buddhist monk Tashi Norbu will make a special appearance. He will open the space at 10 a.m. offering prayers and a mindful meditation followed by an earth blessing in the four directions and creative song by singers Michael Pascal and Stephanie Malouf, as well as special guests from Tallahassee, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York.

Norbu, the Tibetan-born contemporary artist who now hails from the Netherlands, has quite the following. He is known locally for his giant plastic trash-made Buddha seen at the Bazaar on 101. Be prepared to enjoy the surprises he and his artistic counterparts bring to the event this year, including a sand mandala and other modern works that will be raffled at the event.

Lia Strell, one of the creative minds bringing this event back to the public stage, has been busy around town since 2016 vetting the artists and is hopeful this event will intersect the deep spirituality of Encinitas with the growing sustainability culture.

“We are all linked by our passion for creating a strong, healthy future,” Strell said. “The global shift in consciousness has arrived and will be demonstrated with all the talented artists called to participate in this year’s EcoFest!”

Over 75 vendor booths are participating this year, including an electric car show. There will be drawings, giveaways, demonstrations, hands-on educational projects, and an array of unique offerings, such as a pedal bike that produces the energy to make your own smoothie.

Informational booths, such as one for San Diego Community Power Company that bring wind and solar energy to the grid and the city-run ecology center at EDCO, are among the sponsors. There will be many activities for kids, including bubbles, bees, and butterflies with arts and crafts and a scavenger hunt sponsored by the vendors.

Vegan food trucks and a libation station for the adults will be on hand, so bring a blanket and enjoy this beautiful park for the day. “This is a fun family event,” says Mark O’Conner, who joined the EcoFest production through his volunteer work with Surfrider. “We want to help people discover that it’s easy to create a sustainable way to live with small everyday changes.

“We are all trying to make a difference — not just for ourselves but for future generations.” 

That’s a soul on fire.