The festival has something for everyone! Unable to attend for the entire weekend like I usually do, this year I took my daughter and a friend of hers along for Students' Day on Friday. The noon-time keynote speaker was Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man. Throughout the day, there were numerous workshops held in tents throughout the grounds. My favorite was Weird Alcohol Feedstocks, High Profit, High Yield, Ecological Alternatives to Corn
given by David Blume, Executive Director, International Institute for Ecological Agriculture who spoke about using a wide array of normal and strange crops can flourish in deserts, marshes, marginal farmland that produce 4-30 times the yield of corn and 2-10 times the animal feed per acre for as little as 30 cents per gallon. After his presentation, I was wondering how long it would be before Monsanto or Exxon put a contract out on him. Besides workshops, there are plenty of other things to do, like EAT. You won't find any blooming onions or funnel cakes here...just lots of good food. There's something for everyone, from 'Fake Steaks' for the vegetarians to Jambalaya cooked right in front of everyone. The festival really excells at reducing their environmental impact by requiring all food vendors to use compostable or recyclable service wares. The well-marked waste cans liberally distributed throughout the grounds reflect this as there are three to each station--compost, recyclables and trash. Notice that the 'trash' cans are only 5-gallon buckets. The refuse is regularly picked up by volunteers driving GEM electric utility vehicles. This one is street-legal with a range of 40 miles and a top speed of 30mph. For those of who need to travel a little further and faster, there were plenty of examples of alternatively powered vehicles.
...it's the Bag Monster from Chico Bags. Check out the Bag Monster's blog. The Bag Monster wasn't the only one dressed up to make a point. MAREA volunteers donned the 'trash hat' to raise awareness to festival goers at to what was trash and what wasn't.
There were also vendors offering a wide variety of stuff for sale, like native plants, natually made soaps, fiber arts and fresh vegetables and meats at the farmers market sponsored by PASA. Inside the main building, there were lots of sustainable businesses and organizations with information displays. Dickinson College, one of the leaders in sustainability in the nation, was there along with companies with products made from renewable resources, those promoting sustainable practices such as collecting rainwater in barrels and one of my favorites, Northern Sun. Some of the exhibitors had eye-catching displays. No matter where you went, there were plenty examples of renewable energy in action. This solar collector powered a sound system blaring out classic tunes.