Amazing Earthfest, Celebrating the Colorado Plateau

Tom and I arrived at Pipe Spring National Monument during the Amazing Earthfest 2018.  Earthfest is a celebration of the environment and sustainable living in the Arizona Strip and southern Utah.  From May 13-19, there were 35 events where people could learn about the wonderful earth around them.  Events were held from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to Zion National park.  The center of the festival is Kanab, Utah, and most events take place there.

May is the perfect time to have the festival because the summer tourist season is not yet underway and the weather is sunny and warm without being hot.  Locals are drawn to the 35 events which range from sustainable gardening to dinosaur track hikes to concerts and art shows.  Amazing Earthfest is billed as “Southern Utah’s premiere Festival of Experiential Learning, Discovery, Arts and Adventure!”

Tom and I looked at the schedule of events and were interested in many of them, including several “hikes with a local.”  There is a film festival that showed at the Kanab Crescent Moon Theater all week.  But, because we were working, we only attended one event, a piano concert at Fredonia High School.

Connor Chee is a Navajo from Page, Arizona.  He trained as a classical pianist at the Cincinnati Conservatory.  He is also a composer who tries to capture the spirit the Navajo music he learned from his grandfather.  Because most native music is not written down, Connor’s music is unique.  It evokes the stories of the Navajo.  He just published a new album called “Emergence” and he played several of the pieces from this album.  You can hear some it by clicking on this link.

About 40 people attended this Amazing Earthfest concert in Fredonia.  Tom and I thought it was a pretty good turnout considering how small Fredonia is.  The high school gymnasium doesn’t have great acoustics, and Connor played on an old grand piano that needed to be tuned.  But his music was beautiful nevertheless.  In between each piece he told us a story about composing the piece.  The music was deliberately repetitious:  in Navajo tradition, you tell a story four times.

Connor also played several pieces that he did not compose and which really showcased his skills as a pianist.  My favorite was the very powerful “Elegy for the Arctic” by Ludovico Einaudi.  Take three minutes to click on the link and watch this moving performance (not Connor Chee).  You can also watch several performances by Connor Chee on his YouTube channel.  Tom’s favorite piece was Connor’s encore, which was a medley of Star Wars music.

At intermission, a family of Kaibab Paiute came out and sang a Paiute welcome song.  They talked a little bit about the tradition of music among the Paiute and then we all joined in a “Friendship Circle Dance.”  We enjoyed the concert very much and were impressed with the quality of the artist out in the sticks of the Arizona Strip.

Amazing Earthfest is a wonderful celebration of the gorgeous earth in this part of the world.  If you are planning a trip to southern Utah, a visit during Earthfest would enhance your appreciation of what you see.