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Photo By Jeanette Beranger
The program cover for the 2012 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at Seven Springs, Pa. featured this San Clemente goat, owned by Maria Castro of the Quennell Lake Livestock Conservancy in British Columbia.

This year’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS in Washington and Pennsylvania were better than ever, with a combined attendance of more than 25,000. We are pleased to announce that next year we expect to add a third FAIR in the Midwest. To follow details on the schedules and programs, all you need to do is subscribe to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR e-newsletter. Also, we have begun plans to eventually offer a DVD series so readers unable to attend the FAIRS can learn from the experts who offer workshops.

Fairgoers had an almost insatiable interest in attending the workshops (there were more than 200 in Pennsylvania), buying books (the FAIR bookstore offered more than 450 items) and visiting the 250 exhibitors’ booths. There is no doubt that the Modern Homesteading and Real Food movements are in high gear.

One new presentation this year was a live, how-to demonstration on humanely killing and processing chickens. Led by Real Food rock star Joel Salatin and David Schafer, developer of the Featherman line of poultry-processing equipment, the standing-room-only demonstration was the first time many attendees had witnessed livestock being killed. People were grateful for the opportunity to learn how to humanely process the birds, and to discover that, with the right skills and equipment, it requires just a few minutes per bird. The entire room was silent as the birds were killed, and observers reported being struck by how respectfully the process was conducted.

The FAIRS afford our editors a great opportunity to check in with contributors and advertisers (as well as our readers, of course!), and as usual we discovered several exciting new developments. We have been working with Randy and Bonnie Jones, developers of the GrainMaker line of milling equipment, to produce a sorghum-pressing machine so that homesteaders can process homegrown sweet sorghum into syrup. (The folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offered samples so fairgoers could taste just how sweet this crop can be.) Randy reports that they expect to begin shipping sorghum presses in late 2013, and he is now accepting advance orders. For details, call 855-777-7096. We’ll be publishing a how-to article on making sorghum syrup in our next issue. GrainMaker also plans to introduce a dehuller attachment for its grain mills, which makes processing homegrown oats, wheat and most other grains more feasible for homesteaders.

Storey Publishing‘s president, Pam Art, joined us on the main stage to salute some of the 2012 Homesteaders of the Year, and she presented the winning homesteaders with Storey’s Homesteading Library book collection. We are now accepting nominations for Homesteaders of the Year for 2013. To read stories about the 2012 winners and nominees, and for details on how to make a nomination for next year, visit Our 2012 Homesteaders of the Year.

The energy and excitement at the FAIRS seem to grow stronger every year. Attendees clearly love having the opportunity to learn a diversity of things from outstanding presenters. (See letters from fairgoers in Dear MOTHER: December 2012/January 2013.) But even more than that, they tell us how great it feels just to spend a weekend with so many other people who share their values and their determination to build a wiser, more sustainable world.