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Participants Look Forward to Fairy Shrimp Festival This Saturday

April 19, 2006

Participants Look Forward to Fairy Shrimp Festival This Saturday

To celebrate Earth Day and honor a certain microscopic crustacean, UC Merced will hold its first Fairy Shrimp Festival April 22.

We wanted to have an arts-and-crafts fair and at the same time celebrate that we are a green campus, said Jim Greenwood of Student Life, who has organized the event.

The day will feature dance performances, live music and vendors selling jewelry, clothing and art from as far away as the Bay Area and as near as Atwater and Merced.

Christine Viney, 11, will have a booth at the fair to teach people how to make tissue paper flowers and will also sell her creations for a quarter apiece.

I heard about it through my dad, and it sounded like fun, said Viney, whose father is a professor at UC Merced. She has been teaching people how to make flowers at various Merced events and says a few students on campus even decorate dorm rooms with her flowers.

The fairy shrimp itself looks kind of funny, Viney said. But she’ll be there along with dozens of other vendors to celebrate its preservation, and the entire community is invited to join them.

Building tours will be available for first-time visitors to the campus, and the UC Merced student government will hold an all-you-can- eat Shrimp Feed fundraiser later in the day. Departments and clubs will hold demonstrations on solar energy, recycling and how the campus is setting a standard for sustainability.

Greenwood said event organizers wanted to hold an annual event similar to UC Davis’ Whole Earth Festival but with a Merced twist. Enter the fairy shrimp.

The rare shrimp was discovered in vernal pools near campus as construction began. Thanks to a conservation easement by UC Merced, the critter’s habitat has been preserved for generations to come.

We are acknowledging that we do have many local species that need to be protected and at the same time we’re taking a fun approach and celebrating arts and sustainable living, Greenwood said.

Admission to the festival is free of charge for all, and the event is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento