Air Fest 2007

Annual celebration moves to Saturday to encourage family participation

By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

In three years the Blount County Air Fest has grown to include a fleet of hybrid cars, a hot air balloon, remote control air planes demonstrations and bicycle ride. The biggest difference many will notice in this year's event is the day and time of the festival.

Instead of mid-week lunch hour event, Blount County Air Fest 2007 is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. Blount County Chamber of Commerce Air Quality Improvement Committee chair Bob Booker said the move was made to include more people.

"The move to Saturday is primarily to give families and school children an opportunity to participate," said Booker. "The last two years when it is has been at lunchtime on school days, it was tough to get kids out," Booker said. "We think it's important to get kids involved because they're the future caretakers of our environment."

Booker said the move to Saturday also makes the event more of a family activity with such activities as hot air balloon rides, remote controlled air plane demonstrations and kite building.

There will also be a bicycle ride from two locations near the festival site at Maryville College. Riders will meet at Greenbelt
Park near the Blount County Public Library and also where the Greenbelt comes out near Mountain View Avenue at Montvale Road, Robyn Blair with Denso Manufacturing said.

The event will be in the front field of the college on the East Lamar Alexander Parkway side of the college. There will be additional parking at the Fine Arts Center and along the road going into Maryville College the day of the event, said Blair, who is on the Air Fest committee.

Hot Air Balloon rides will be available, weather permitting. A tethered ride in the balloon is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

In addition to the festivities, Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham will be on hand to recognize the winner of an air quality billboard design contest among students from William Blount and Maryville middle schools. The winning design will be displayed on a Blount County billboard on April 25.

There will be 12 booths where such organizations and agencies as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Keep Blount Beautiful, GreenPower Switch, Air National Guard, the Sierra Club, Regional Clean Air Coalition and Maryville College will give out information.

The featured speaker is WVLT meteorologist Scott Blalock. There will be free ice cream and water donated by Wal-Mart, Mayfields Ice Cream and Alcoa, Inc. Soft drinks and pizza will be on sale at the event.

If there is inclement weather, the festival moves to the other side of the campus at McArthur Pavilion. An inclement weather line (865-977-2382) will be activated after 12 p.m. on April 14 in case of changes. For more information on the
event, go to www.etnreac.org.

Tips for Better Air Quality

From the Regional Clean Air Coalition

  • Stop at the click - Topping of the fuel tank releases more gas fumes when going past the click. Stopping short reduces pollution.
  • Get fuel in the cool evening hours. Refueling during cooler periods of the day or in the evening can prevent gas fumes form heating up and creating ground-level ozone.
  • Keep cars maintained. Regular maintenance and tune-ups, changing the oil and checking tire inflation can improve gas mileage, reduce traffic congestion due to preventable breakdowns and could reduce a vehicle's emissions by more than half.
  • Avoid mowing your grass and grilling out on ozone alert days.
  • Combine errands into one trip.
  • Know before you go: Get travel and transit updates before leaving home. This helps drivers avoid traffic jams.
  • Ride a bike. Vehicles on the road create more than 25 percent of all pollution nationwide.
  • Share a ride. Even car pooling or taking mass transit once or twice a week reduces traffic congestion and pollution and saves money.
  • Telecommute. Work at home sometimes. This saves money and reduces emissions and traffic congestion.

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