Cheat Festival was featured in a recent article by the Preston County News & Journal! Check it out below!
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 12:00 am
by Monica Ammons Phillips CORRESPONDENT
ALBRIGHT — The sleepy town of Albright will soon spring to life, as the Cheat River Festival rolls into the canyon on Saturday, May 2.
Cheat Fest is the largest fundraising effort for the non-profit group Friends of Cheat (FOC). FOC helps fund the restoration of waters polluted by abandoned coal mines, as well as initiatives for river access improvement, to help people gain access to the water for recreation.
“The festival is a really important education and outreach platform. It’s the best opportunity for FOC to interact with the local community. Having community support is just as important to achieving our mission as sampling streams is,” Festival Coordinator Lauren Greco said.
Greco has been with FOC for just under two years, and has experience working on the restoration side of the organization, such as helping manage the water monitoring program and some acid mine drainage projects. As with most small non-profits, everyone is asked to wear multiple hats, and Greco says she’s grateful for the experience of directing the festival.
If you’ve never attended Cheat Fest, there is something for everyone. “From the family down the road to the serious kayaker, young and old, we really try to make everyone feel welcome,” Greco said.
In addition to all-day live music, there is an art market, kids tent, 5K race, downriver whitewater race, fly casting demo, non-profit tent and many interesting vendors.
These activities bring several thousand people to the area.
“One of our goals is to make the festival experience more directly about the river, and the things we can all do to protect it — from treating acid mine drainage to adjusting personal habits in order to lesson our own environmental impact,” Greco said.
Several new and updated policies and procedures are now in place to help FOC lead the way in lessoning the festival’s carbon footprint. It’s a tall order, considering the size of the festival and its location, along the Cheat River, near Teeter’s Campground. More than 700 campers stay overnight on property or at the campground, and another untold amount throughout the canyon.
Festival goers are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups, utensils and plates for the weekend.
“Saying no to single-use items is a simple change everyone can make to reduce their own environmental impact,” Greco explained.
This year, all food scraps and bio-degradable dinnerware waste will be composted at a West Virginia University facility, then recycled into the soil. Vendors of the festival have agreed to switch from regular dinnerware to compostable utensils. On-site compost bins will be available throughout the festival grounds.
Organizers have also taken a look at the source of festival themed T-shirts.
“We’ve partnered with SustainU, a Morgantown company specializing in producing 100 percent recycled, USA-made apparel,” Greco said. “We wanted to make sure we work with companies who are making an effort to be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible.”
SustainU was started by ordinary people looking to make a more authentic and honest garment. Starting with great fitting tees and hoodies, SustainU’s clothing will always stay true to its hometown roots, with new timeless, basic styles that transcend fads and can be worn for years
Greco also said another way to lessen the carbon footprint is by offering incentives for carpoolers. Any car arriving with four or more people eligible to win prizes, like free festival entry, VIP access and “swag” festival gear.
“At FOC we spend most of our time trying to remediate pollution that is decades’ old, but environmental damage is much easier to prevent than it is to fix. So, as an organization we have a responsibility to really consider and try to minimize our own environmental impact.” Greco concluded.
More information about Cheat Fest, including where to purchasing discounted tickets, can be found at www.cheatfest.org, on Facebook or the Friends of Cheat website, www.cheat.org