The Ozark Mountain Daredevils play at the 2023 Earth Day Festival inside the Jordan Valley Ice Park in Springfield, Missouri.
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils headlined the 2023 Earth Day Festival in downtown Springfield. The 2024 fest is headlined by nationally touring artist Langhorne Slim. (Photo by Zen Lens Photomedia)

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Organizers of the 2024 Earth Day Festival are more than open to the idea of parents bringing their children along for a day full of music at Jordan Valley Park. With free admission for people ages 12 and under and an expanded lineup of kids’ activities, they’re encouraging families to make a day of it.

The leave-no-trace music and sustainability festival returns to downtown Springfield for its third year on Saturday, April 27. The gates open at 11 a.m., with music running from noon until 8 p.m.

“I think probably one of the most important things when you’re talking about climate change and solving the climate crisis is keeping kids in the conversation,” Earth Day Festival President Molly Healey said. “They’re the ones that are going to have to take this over when we’re gone and I think that instilling ideas and positive interactions with climate activism is incredibly important — probably more important than just about anything that we do with this festival.”

The idea for the Earth Day Festival was born out of a conversation Healey had with her daughter about finding a way to combine her love for music with her passion for environmentalism.

Festival raised more than $50,000 for Springfield-area organizations

The Earth Day Festival, presented by Vital Farms, does a lot in the name of preserving nature in the Ozarks. Healey said all of the ticket revenue goes towards Springfield-area environmental organizations. This year’s beneficiaries are the James River Basin Partnership, the River Access Coalition and the Greater Ozarks Audobon Society.

“This is a fundraising festival for local environmental organizations,” she said. “We’ve raised over $50,000 so far. We’re very proud of that.”

Singer/songwriter Molly Healey plays the cello and sings into a microphone
Molly Healey leads the team that organizes Springfield's Earth Day Festival. Her band, the Molly Healey String Project, will perform at the festival's third edition, April 27, 2024, at Jordan Valley Park. (Photo by Matt Loveland)

Prior Earth Day beneficiaries of the event include Ozark Greenways, Ozark Society, Springfield Compost Collective, Springfield-Greene County Park Board and the Watershed Committee.

Kids' tent features art activities, musical petting zoo

Back to those kids’ activities: They’ll be housed in a special tent on the west side of the festival footprint, next to Jordan Valley Ice Park, and include storytimes throughout the day, just as previous festivals have.

“We’re also going to have Heather’s Natural Art Corner,” Healey said. “She’s going to be having some projects made with reused and sustainable art supplies. And we’ve also got a musical petting zoo put on by the music therapy students at Drury.”

If the young ones need a little refreshment during the festival, the Coffee Ethic will be on-site selling beverages, including lemonade.

Headliner Langhorne Slim part of strong lineup of musical artists

Singer/songwriter Langhorne Slim
Langhorne Slim, a nationally touring artist based in Nashville, Tennessee, will headline the third Earth Day Festival, April 27, 2024, at Jordan Valley Park. (Photo by Harvey Robinson)

The 2024 Earth Day Festival music lineup is headlined by a nationally touring artist, another first for the festival. Langhorne Slim, based out of Nashville, Tennessee, plays at 6:30 p.m.

“He’s played in all the major music festivals, he’s been on Conan and he’s just been one of those independent music darlings for many years now,” Healey said. “We’re very excited to see him.”

The word “excited” gets used a lot when talking about the musical lineup. When performers were announced in November 2023, Healey said she believed it’s the best lineup yet. Performances will rotate between two stages, a main stage and an acoustic stage, starting with Rochara Knight and the Honey Doves.

“They’re a soul group out of Columbia, Missouri, that I’m super excited for everybody to get to see,” Healey said.

Here’s the full lineup for the day:

  • noon — Rochara Knight and the Honey Doves (main stage)
  • 1 p.m. — Dallas Jones (acoustic stage)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Molly Healey String Project (main stage)
  • 2:30 p.m. — Patti Steel (acoustic stage)
  • 3 p.m. — National Park Radio (main stage)
  • 4 p.m. — The Shandies (acoustic stage)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Ha Ha Tonka (main stage)
  • 5:30 p.m. — Brandon Moore & Friends (acoustic stage)
  • 6:30 p.m. — Langhorne Slim

Other entertainment includes Springfield Aerial Fitness, keynote speech by Bo Brown

A woman on blue stilts holds up a hula hoop
Performers from Springfield Aerial Fitness will entertain the crowds all day at the Springfield Earth Day Festival Saturday, April 27, at Jordan Valley Park. (Photo: Zen Lens Photomedia)

Musicians are not the only scheduled entertainment. Garrett Melby will be painting live throughout the day and Arrow Creative Re-use has supplied some festival puppets.

“And Springfield Aerial Fitness will be performing all day as well,” Healey said. “It’s just going to be a great lineup of both visual and artistic endeavors.”

Bo Brown will deliver the festival’s keynote address at 6:15 p.m. Brown, who has been teaching primitive skills since 1992, has written a pair of books about foraging and is the founder and director of the First Wilderness Earth School. There he leads courses on subjects like foraging, wilderness survival and natural education.

“And he’s a songbird field biologist,” Healey said. “He’s just been doing environmentalism I think his whole entire life. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and the skills that he’s been teaching in his classes are incredibly useful to a lot of folks around the Ozarks. We’re very excited to have him.”

Preceding Brown’s speech will be a tree-planting ceremony, with help from representatives from Tree City USA.

Here's where to park

Parking is always a concern in downtown Springfield, and Earth Day Festival organizers have put detailed parking instructions on the festival website. Paid parking will be available in the Jordan Valley Car Park, with free parking on the Ozarks Technical Community College lots off Sherman Avenue north of Chestnut Expressway.

“There’s a free shuttle that we are providing for folks, so they just park in those lots and every 15 minutes there will be a shuttle going by and they can come on down to the festival,” Healey said. “We’ll get them down to the fest for free.”

In the spirit of the event, festivalgoers are encouraged to carpool or ride their bikes. There’s even a pre-fest ride put on by Springfield Brewing Company Athletics.

Don't forget your refillable water bottle

A man wearing a Mother's Brewing Company hat and T-shirt sells beer during the 2022 Earth Day Festival
Mother's Brewing Company will be selling beer at the Earth Day Festival April 27. Nobody will be selling plastic water bottles, however, and guests are encouraged to bring refillable bottles and use the free Water Wagon provided by City Utilities. (Photo by Zen Lens Photomedia)

Healey encourages guests to bring camping chairs and blankets to sit on during the festival, but leave your pop-up tents at home, as well as your dogs. There are more details on what is and is not allowed on the Earth Day Festival website.

Don't worry about bringing food. Not'cho Ordinary Taco, The Crêpe Shack and N'Joy Thai Streetfood will have their trucks set up in Jordan Valley Park, while The Coffee Ethic and Mother's Brewing Company sell beverages.

Do make sure to bring your own refillable water bottle, though. There will be no plastic bottles for sale on-site.

“City Utilities has generously provided a Water Wagon, so you just bring your bottle and there’s crystal clear drinking water for free all day long,” Healey said. “No more paying for a water bottle and no more plastic bottles to recycle. We will have some metal water bottles for sale if you forget, but please bring those water bottles.”

Want to go?

What: 2024 Earth Day Festival

When: Saturday, April 27; gates open at 11 a.m. with live music starting at noon

Where: Jordan Valley Park, 635 E. Trafficway St.

Tickets: $50 general admission, $75 VIP, ages 12 and under are free. Tickets are available online

For more information: Visit the Earth Day Festival website or follow them on Facebook

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger is the Reader Engagement Editor for the Hauxeda, and the voice of its daily newsletter SGF A.M. He covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger