Living Off Grid – Our First Mother Earth News Fair

Reader Contribution by Ed Essex
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Well yes, we did attend the Mother Earth News Fair in
Puyallup, WA June 2, 3, 2012. What an event!
It seems like everywhere we go, no matter what kind of event, street fair or
country fair, they are all pretty much the same. Not this one. This one stands
out. This one was the Mother of all Fairs and seriously, no pun intended.

There were over 150 Do It Yourself Workshops and 250 Exhibitors. They had more
than 8 stages and a tree house all going at the same time. I never did see the
tree house but it was in the brochure so it must have been there. There would
have to be at least five of me to see everything and attend all that is
available. Of course Laurie and I had to stay in our booth the whole time and
try to sell something but we each managed to sneak out occasionally to see the

I’m sure one of the MEN (Mother Earth News) Pros will write about this soon and
give you all the facts and statistics but here is my take. It was wall to wall
people from opening to closing and that being said, it was the most organized
and well run event I have ever attended. Just to prove it, one of the MEN staff
brought us a cookie on Sunday afternoon when we were on our last reserves of

 We met a lot of people from Utah. We
should probably consider having one there if there is no sales tax. Our booth,
Good Ideas For Life, No 427 was a big hit. One of the items we sell on our
online business is Tattler Reusable Canning Lids. We took eight cases and sold out
by 3:00 Saturday. Whoops, our bad. Next year we will bring a Semi truck full of

MEN had a bookstore in the middle of this event that is
bigger than anything we have around here where we live. Here we order books
online and the library sends them to us via the Post Office (for free!). I
don’t think MEN has that kind of a service but they did put all books on sale
30% off the last hour. Hundreds, if not thousands of books all helping you to
live a better, happier, and healthier lifestyle. If I were unhealthy or unhappy
that is where I would get a book. Grit Magazine and Backwoods Home Magazine
were both there as well.

Vendor cooperation was great! The Seed people heard we had
seed tape at our booth and were sending people our way. We were giving out
cards for other vendors like Earthineer and they were doing the same for us. It
seemed everyone had the fairgoers best interest at heart.

Natural Clothing, electric cars, tree seedlings, trees, all
kinds of natural products, wood stoves, masonry stoves, cookware, garden
supplies, books and more books, birdhouses, seeds, Heritage Seeds and more
seeds, wool spinners, hydroponics, survival tools, people dressed as pioneers,
garden equipment, eco builders, goats, chickens, and bunnies, compost toilets,
and yurts – these were a few of my favorite things. All of those and more at
the Mother Earth News Fair.

The speakers were knowledgeable and to the point. They didn’t
keep you any longer than necessary. It was obvious they had done this before.
The building was perfectly set up for this type of thing. There were always
multiple speaking events going on at the same time but the only one you heard
was the one you attended.

I am being serious when I say it was the coolest event I
have ever attended and I will be truly torn between going as a vendor or
regular ticket holder next year.

The only thing I would do different is stay in a different
hotel. The one we chose had duct tape on the concrete steps up to our
room. They used both gray and black although I’m pretty sure they both have the same concrete structural repair strength.

 Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in
the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website  and

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