Earlier this month, muskets, cannons and battlefield reenactments dotted the Concord countryside for Patriots Day. But on Saturday, the same town celebrates an event more inspired by Henry David Thoreau than Paul Revere: the annual Musketaquid Earth Day, hosted by Musketaquid Arts & Environment, the environmental arts wing of the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts.
For more than 20 years, community members have marked the international Earth Day observance by gathering on the banks of the Concord River in late April to celebrate nature, the earth, and a beloved waterway. The Musketaquid observance begins on a quiet and contemplative note, with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Lowell Road bridge near Concord Center.
“The river ceremony is a wonderful start to Earth Day,” said Nancy Lippe, one of its event’s organizers. “It is a reflective time when we’re thinking about how we can honor the earth and what it means to us.
“Then we launch our earth floats, which are wooden structures to which participants are welcome to add natural materials to make a nature-based sculpture. Some people attach personal notes to the floats expressing their hopes and wishes as well. Then we watch them drift under the bridge and down the river. It’s a beautiful observance.”
After that, however, the event grows more boisterous as the parade kicks off.
“Over the course of the last 20 years, community members have taken part in crafting more than 60 giant puppets representing plants and animals from our habitat,” Lippe explained. “We have puppets representing eagles, turtles, insects, birds, mammals. There’s drumming and music and dancing, and we proceed down Main Street and through Concord Center to the Emerson Umbrella lawn on Stow Street. You don’t have to be holding a puppet to be in the parade; we like as many people to join in as possible.”
Upon reaching the Emerson Umbrella grounds just a few blocks away, the midday carnival runs from noon to 2 p.m. It includes more live music and drumming, gymnasts, crafts, activities, and fresh organic food prepared by the Farm to Table Café in Groton.
“We always have a community arts activity at the carnival. This year, we put a lot of thought in at the last minute to come up with a project that would honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing,” Lippe said. “What we decided to do is have each participant in the project make a small flag, which we will then string up like prayer flags in the front yard of Emerson Umbrella.”
Musketaquid Earth Day is always a meaningful celebration, Lippe said, but she is hoping that in light of recent events, this year’s observance will bring additional solace to those who attend.
“Earth Day is meant to honor a sense of community and harmony,” Lippe said. “We all live on this earth together and need to take care of each other and our surroundings. How we choose to deal with chaos says a lot about who we are as a people and a community. This is a joyous and celebratory event, but one with a reflective strand in which we can think about how to better all live on this earth together with mutual respect and recognition of one another.”
For more information about Musketaquid Earth Day, go to www.emersonumbrella.org.
PARALLEL FESTIVITIES: Framingham is also celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, with a festival featuring more than 80 displays, attractions and vendors.
The town’s Earth Day Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. on the village green in Framingham Centre, alongside Edgell Road near Route 9, and continues to 3 p.m. (In the event of heavy rain, the festival will be moved to Framingham High School.)
With food, music, recycling, composting, kids’ activities, artisans and eco-friendly products and businesses, the third annual festival is expected to be larger and more diverse than previous years.
The festival will also provide an opportunity for area residents to recycle unwanted items such as bikes, electronic gear and batteries, which will be collected by the town’s Department of Public Works.
More information about the event can be found online at www.framinghamearthday.org.
JAZZ NIGHT: Medfield High’s annual Jazz Night, presented by Needham Bank, features New York saxophonist Jim Snidero performing with the school’s award-winning jazz band at 7 p.m. Friday in the Lowell Mason Auditorium at the high school, 24 Pound St.
The jazz band has just returned from a cultural exchange and performing tour of China. Also performing will be the Medfield High School jazz choir and Blake Middle School jazz bands. Tickets are $10; $5 for seniors, students, and children. Purchase at the door, or online at www.medfieldmusicassociation.com.
CIVIL WAR SALON: The Friends of the Goodnow Library presents “Be Swift My Soul: A Civil War Era Salon,” a living history presentation by local actress Libby Franck, at 3 p.m. Sunday at the library, 21 Concord Road in Sudbury.
In her one-woman show, Franck portrays Julia Ward Howe, who produced perhaps the most stirring and recognizable lines of music in US history. Her many famous acquaintances, travels and love of music helped Howe create the compelling verses of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which were first sung in Framingham more than 150 years ago.
The event is free, but seating is limited and registration is required. For more details or to reserve a seat, call 978-443-1035 or go to www.town.sudbury.ma.us/departments/ library.
“GODSPELL” IN MAYNARD: Theatre with a Twist Inc. presents “Godspell,” based on the “Gospel According to St. Matthew” and featuring a score by Stephen Schwartz, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. at Maynard High School .
The production features performers in the ensemble’s Broadway Bound program, for students in Grade 6 and older.
Tickets are $13, or $11 for students and senior citizens, and are available at www.theatrewithatwist.org or at the door. Call 978-302-0985 for more information.
STUDIO OPTIONS: Artists in both Lexington and Brookline are holding open studios events this weekend.
In Brookline, more than 75 artists will be opening their doors to visitors to their studio spaces from noon to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday; For maps, a list of participating artists, and more information go to www.brooklineartists.com.
The Lexington event will feature the work of 78 artists and artisans affiliated with local organizations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more details, visit the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society’s website, www.lacsma.org, and click on the Open Studios link.
In conjunction with the weekend event in Brookline, sculptors at Studios Without Walls have set up temporary outdoor installations of their works along the banks of the Muddy River in the town’s Riverway Park.
“Through the Trees” will remain on exhibit through May 19. This weekend, artists will lead hourly tours from noon to 5 p.m. For details, visit www.studioswithoutwalls.org.
HALALISA MILESTONE: The Halalisa Singers ensemble celebrates 20 years of music-making this weekend, with concerts in Lexington and Littleton featuring newly commissioned works by Brian Tate and Mystic Chorale director and Halalisa Singers founder Nick Page.
“Together We Sing: 20 Years of Halalisa!” will be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. at First Parish in Lexington, 7 Harrington Road; and Sunday at 3 p.m. at First Church Unitarian, 19 Foster St. in Littleton. Tickets are $18, or $15 for students and seniors. For more information, call 781-862-6353 or go to www.halalisa.org.
MEET ARTISTS TONIGHT: Wellesley’s Council on Aging is hosting an art show highlighting the work of local residents age 60 and older.
The pieces will be displayed at Waterstone, 27 Washington St. in Wellesley, with an opening reception Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. The show will run through May 1 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; admission is free.
Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com. Please include the event’s date in the subject line.