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