What started as a grass-roots, "fringe" event is now a huge, mainstream attraction. Welcome to San Diego "EarthFair" 2009, the twentieth anniversary of San Diego's environmental awareness.
They came on bikes and buses, and by car and trolley. But one group did more than just talk the Earth Day talk. Sofia Beeson and her friends actually walked the Earth Day walk, all the way from the North County. They left Encinitas at midnight Sunday, and walked all the way to Balboa Park, crossing the Laurel Street bridge at 10:30 a.m.
"We're dedicating this day to show our dedication to the environment and what we really care about," said Beeson, whose dozen colleagues call themselves "Walk Lightly Now."
They had plenty of earth-friendly allies in Balboa Park, which was jammed with tens of thousands of locals and tourists. There were hundreds of booths, promoting all kinds of earth friendly products and philosophies, from electric bikes and scooters to a house cleaning company that uses only non-toxic cleaning supplies.
"We actually clean the home without causing any kind of (chemical) residuals," explained Marvin Cox, owner of Green Cleen Maid Service.
Students from San Diego High School manned a booth promoting their "Save The World on Fridays" student club. The club encourages students, faculty and staff at the downtown high school to walk, bike or carpool, or take the bus or trolley to school every Friday.
"Participants get organic snacks from Whole Foods Markets, and a chance to win a prize," said student club member Emersen Phillips.
The huge EarthFair crowd was also a magnet for local politicians. Assemblyman Marty Block was there, as was fellow Democrat Sheila Jackson, a San Diego Unified School District board member.
Republicans also tried to woo new voters. Local GOP chairman Tony Krvaric says Republicans also care about the environment, but think Mother Earth can be rescued without government intervention.
"We're advocating free markets and private ownership, but we get a lot of good response here," Krvaric said of the EarthFair crowd.
And food, as aways, was the common denominator among EarthFair participants.
There were vegetarians and vegans, meat eaters and soy-milk drinkers. Food offerings included everything from Kettle Corn to Clif Bars and hot-dogs-on-a-stick to Honest Ade and Honest Tea organic drinks.
"The Aerospace Museum is offering free lunch, and there's of course all the Ben and Jerry's (ice cream and yogurt stands) around, and the lemonade, and the Kashi tent with the granola bars," said EarthFair participant Jessica Beattie.