The ninth annual Olentangy River Festival (formerly the NOW Festival) will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on June 25 at Mingo Park in Delaware.

This family friendly festival serves as a way for the community to celebrate its scenic river and sustainability efforts within the Olentangy Watershed, which spans from Marion and Morrow counties through Delaware and into Franklin County. Every year, individuals, businesses, and farmers are presented with Conservation Awards at the festival to shine the spotlight on local efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle and protect the environment. This year, the Individual Conservation Award goes to Kenny and Karen Fecker, and the Business Conservation Award goes to Del City Farm.

The Feckers have been working to protect local bird populations since 1987. They run a 55-box bluebird trail from Marion to Morrow County, as well as purple martin colonies at the Delaware State Park Marina and their home. They started in 1993 with six breeding pairs of martins and now host up to 130 pairs. Their conservation work allows visitors to watch the stunning martins while enjoying their spring and summer in the park.

“We need local heroes like the Feckers to maintain a healthy ecosystem and inspire others to do the same!,” a press release from the city said. “We commend their efforts and encourage you to check out their impressive purple martin hotel near the marina at Delaware State Park.”

The second award winner, Del City Farm, is a local, woman-owned business run by Angie Lilly who sells homemade creations such as cookies and fruit butters. Since its creation, Del City Farm has worked to be as sustainable as possible. They reuse grocery bags, use post-consumer recycled content for labels and business cards, and work with other local businesses, such as Beanbag Books, to reuse packaging materials. They allow customers to bring back packaging like fruit butter jars or plastic clamshells for reuse.

Del City Farm’s Facebook post from Earth Day won them the nomination for this award.

“From the very beginning of my business, I made it a priority to be as sustainable as I was able,” Lilly said. “I’ve never been perfect at it but I’ve always done the best I can, and I’m always looking for new ways to do more. We have all worked together to make Del City Farm more and more sustainable every year.”

“This is exactly what we want to see from local businesses; no one is perfect when it comes to sustainability, but if everyone commits to small actions like allowing used or recycled packaging, then we would make a much bigger difference as a whole,” the press release said. “We hope that Del City Farm will serve as role model for other local businesses, and we are lucky to have them here in Delaware. Come sample their cookies that they have generously donated for the festival!”

During this year’s festival, individuals will have the opportunity to get their feet wet in the Olentangy River. Activities will include a chance to collect critters through ODNR’s Scenic Rivers Program, a free kayak float with Delaware State Park naturalists, and the chance learn how to fly fish with Central Ohio Fly Fishers. Water activities will take place at the kayak launch area located to the right of the entrance into Mingo Park at 500 E. Lincoln Ave., Delaware. The rest of the activities will take place around the picnic shelters.

The festival will also feature live music from The Blue Limestone Project, face painting from Canvas Creations For You, a dunk tank from E&H Ace Hardware, and yard games from Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. Several other organizations will lead activities and provide conservation education at their booths.

“A big thank you goes out to Destination Delaware and Delaware County Farm Bureau for sponsoring this event,” the press release said.

No Olentangy River Festival would be complete without the rain barrel raffle, which is back again this year.

For more information, contact Watershed & Sustainability Coordinator Erin Wolfe at 740-203-1905 or [email protected]

Gazette Staff

[email protected]

Information for this article was provided by the City of Delaware.