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The scene at Red Orchard Park on Saturday was jovial, with a steady stream of people lugging electronic castoffs to a recycling truck and kids running and playing, or trying to play, on wet playground equipment.
Although rain and cool temperatures limited the crowd to a few hundred people at the Earth Day festivities, those who did attend appeared to have a great time, and Parks and Recreation Director Clay Cottongim said he considered the event a success.
Although Shelby County celebrated Earth Day on Saturday, the event is officially observed on April 22 and has been since 2009, when that date was designated by the United Nations,
"The weather has hurt us a little bit, but everybody here is having a great time," he said. "A lot of people are taking advantage of being able to bring in their old computers and TVs to have them recycled, and the kids are having a ball in the nature center. We recently got a new corn snake in, and he just shed his skin a minute ago, and the kids just loved that."
Joan Brown, a retired educational assistant from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, charmed a captive audience as she explained the habits of the corn snake while holding one of the creatures at the reptile exhibit upstairs in the Miller Education Center.
"Isn't he a beauty? Who would like to pet him?" she asked the group, which included Brownie Troop 818 of Shelby County.
Not too many of the children took her up on it, not caring too much for the idea, although the snake had just shed his skin, presumably in honor of the Earth Day festivities.
"I've been around snakes all my life and worked with them a lot at Fish and Wildlife," Brown, who is from Shelby County, told a reporter after the children had left the room to go check out the beehive exhibit in the next room.
"Even as a child, I could find snakes along any creek," she said proudly.
Other exhibits in the Nature Center in the Miller House included birds' nests, booths manned by Fish and Wildlife, and hives furnished by the Shelby County Beekeepers Association. That club's president, Danny Keeton, who has 12 hives, said he uses his bees for the production of honey, which he sells at Tapps Feed.
Outside, an exhibit by Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky had its own small group who had gathered around to admire several birds that were tethered to their perches.
Sam and Sarah Jewel of Shelbyville said they enjoyed all the exhibits, although their daughter, Eliza, who will turn a year old this week, wasn't too sure about the birds, judging from the expression on her face.
"She just hasn't seen anything like them up this close before," Sarah Jewel said, pointing to their prominent talons and curved beaks, as the birds occasionally expressed frustration with their inability to take flight.
Meanwhile, back at the barn behind the Miller House, the animals were a bit cuddlier, as children vied to pet a baby rabbit supplied by Walt Reichert, who also brought along some roosters.
"We are having a really good time," said Kerri Shepard, as she watched her daughter, Kasey, pet the rabbit, while the Merry Dulcimers provided folk music in the background.
The barn also held exhibits in keeping with the Earth Day theme, such as a booth on litter abatement manned by Clean Community Director Kathy Ranard, an exhibit by the Shelby County Master Gardeners, as well as handmade crafts and many other items of interest. There was even a display of elk and deer antlers, deer hides and related items, courtesy of Joy Fitzgerald, a conservation educator with Fish and Wildlife.
"I like bringing things the kids can handle, especially involving our wildlife," she said.