I had a wedding to attend in Nebraska on the 12th, so I missed the first day, that’s how life is. I would've skipped any appointment to support my aunt on her day, but that also meant forgoing presentations that I really wanted to attend. Being one that labors toward the goal of subsistence homesteading, I should prioritize the talks on functional skills, but also being a dreamer, I gravitate toward lectures with profound titles such as “Agents of Change,” “Guerrilla Gardening,” and “Nothing Is Impossible.” Of course, I’m responding to provocative language; at the grass-roots level “Beekeeping Basics” might actually be the most radical workshop to attend.
But I missed all that. We rose at oh-dark-thirty on Sunday and cruised down I-29, turned west for the last leg, getting to Lawrence after noon. Watson Park was a beautiful space for the event; a rolling lawn dotted with stately oaks and maples, and a few magnificent old bald cypresses. There was plenty of room for my boys to stretch their legs without bumping into anyone. I heard there were some complaints about the topography and obstructing trees; I guess we should expect our Mother Earth to be flat and clear-cut?
With very limited time, I ran a lap to scope out the exhibitors; from horseradish to honeybees, seeds to solar, I wanted to hear the spiel from each one. With just an afternoon, I bet I talked to less than one percent; this event should be a week long! I’m going to have to use the vendor directory in the program guide as a springboard for further research. I stopped for my longest pause at the Wood-Mizer manual sawmill demonstration. It got me thinking about that barn project, a new shed, shudders, siding, a hay loft; all the things I could source without leaving my own property.
Trying to accommodate two very young men who had spent the morning in the car, I was unable to sit still for some of the Sunday presentations I wanted to hear, specifically those by Darrell Frey, Cheryl Long, and Kelley Kindscher. But the boys had wound down enough by 4 p.m. that I was able to get a seat for Kale Roberts’ “Conduct a Home Energy Audit and Basic Energy-Efficient Retrofits.” Kale talked about easy and effective ways to cut energy costs, and at the end I found myself embroiled in a conversation with another listener about radiant heat and non-linear volumetric calculations, which brings me to a major highlight of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR: the attendees. There must be few events so accessible where one is surrounded by such progressive, impassioned individuals. It’s a breath of fresh air, at once motivational and educational, to share and learn with this community of dreamers and doers, the folks effecting change from the bottom-up.
Thanks to you all, speakers, visitors, and volunteers, who make the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR what it is. The world is watching us, so keep up the good work. I hope to see you next time.
Photo By J. Kongs
Thaddeus Christian is an editor with MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. Right at the moment he is up to his knees in chickens, babies, and news articles. Find him on Google+.