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Earth Day event in Nespelem building on success

All are invited for free food, lots of displays and prizes offered


In the sixth year of an Earth Day event at the Nespelem powwow grounds, the event’s organizers have garnered some national recognition — by offering a free lunch, among other things.

Next Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day, and everyone is invited to the event occurring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where more than 50 agencies and businesses will have information booths set up to show what they do, or help others do, to be kind to the environment.

With hundreds participating each year in a remote sparsely populated area, the event’s relative success invited questions from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 brass, notes Joaquin Bustamante. He’s the event’s chief organizer and head of the Colville Tribes’ recycling program.

“I was really surprised that DC knows who we are,” Bustamante said, noting that they’d been asked to participate in a webinar to explain how they get such great attendance and support for an event that doesn’t get any funding from the local tribe.

“We incorporate the culture,” Bustamante said in a recent interview.

That means offering a “humble” meal (free hot dogs, chips and soft drink) and including fun elements that have taken on a life of their own.

The tribal Public Works department has a friendly competition going with Okanogan County Public Works folks to unveil some top secret recycled product. And “we’ll have lots of giveaways,” Bustamante notes. Local and not-so-local vendors show up with prizes to boost the event. “They know it’s the right thing to do,” Bustamante said.

Loepp Furniture and Appliance will bring in a washer and dryer set, for example, and Coulee Hardware will have a Traeger barbecue there.

CTEC donated a football autographed by Seahawk player Marshawn Lynch and a photo signed by Richard Sherman.

Everyone is invited to attend, Bustamante said.

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