Mother Earth News Fair Highlights, Part I

Reader Contribution by Carole Coates
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I’ve just returned from another educational and entertaining Mother Earth News Fair event, this time near the hip city of Asheville, NC. Fair attendees have lots of options with well over a hundred workshops to choose from. But there’s more to the fair than classes. In today’s post, I want to focus on some of the other learning opportunities and just plain fun things that were available to fair goers.

Check out the horns on this Ankole-Watusi African cattle breed–six feet from tip to tip. Photo by Carole Coates


Indoors or outside, attendees had plenty vendors to check out—more than two hundred of them. Everything from vegetable and flower seeds to tractors was on site and available for sale. Mushroom kits, gardening tools, clothing, children’s books, sun ovens, and fruit trees were just a few more things available for purchase at the Asheville fair. As usual, I found a few things for the garden and some one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

Edible landscaping. Yum! Photo by Carole Coates


For those who needed a break from sitting, there were more than fifty informal demonstrations at various exhibit booths. For instance, North Carolina State University offered a series of how-to-grow workshops ranging from hops to collards. The fair program listed demonstrations by topic (organic gardening, animal husbandry, real food) and location to make it all the easier.

For the Kids

Under eighteen? The fair is free! How great is that? Fair organizers made sure there was plenty to keep them engaged and entertained, too. Some of the booth-based demonstrations were strictly for the younger set, including the chance to create their own audio podcast. Awesome!

Best of all, though, were the kid-focused workshops—all available at the Kids’ Treehouse venue. (There’s not really a treehouse, but you get the idea.) Kids got to meet the same presenters as the adults, but with activities designed just for them. Youth social entrepreneurship, species saving, yogurt parfait making, building with sticks and mud—all these and more workshops were available for teens, tweens, and younger folks.


It was better than a petting zoo at the animal conservancy venue, with exhibitors giving tips and educational information. Chickens, rare African cattle, and most every other animal you might find on a farm or homestead were on view and for sale. The days-old baby goats were probably the biggest stars at the entire two-day event. What could be better than having an fuzzy kid fall asleep in your lap?

This little fellow got lots of attention at the Livestock Conservancy exhibit. Photo by Carole Coates

Bookstore and Book Signings

The Mother Earth News Bookstore is an ever popular fair destination. It featured books by many of the speakers as well as a whole host of other natural living books. Several non-book items, including cookware and cheese making kits, were also available.

Many of the workshop presenters are also authors and have written books related to their presentations. At the bookstore, fair goers could meet the authors and get autographed copies of their how-to books. I’m getting quite the collection!

Gardening expert Niki Jabbour was one of the many speakers who had books available for sale at the bookstore. How exciting to get author autographs! Photo by CaroleCoates

While topical workshops are the main feature of Mother Earth News Fairs, there’s lots more to keep you busy on fair weekends, too. My only challenge was finding time to pack everything in.

Carole Coatesis a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts by following this link.You can also find Carole atLiving On the Diagonalwhere she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

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