Each year just outside of Stevens Point, WI is a massive renewable energy fair. The name is kind of misleading as it’s not entirely about renewable energy or even mostly about it. If I could rename it I would call it the Midwest Sustainable Living Festival or the Midwest Moving-Past-Greenwashing-Into-Real-Solutions Extravaganza. There are hundreds of exhibitors, hour long workshops on everything from solar panels to humanure to herbalism to building, great food, live music, awesome locally brewed beer at the beer tent, and an excellent vibe from everyone there. The four work studys and two board members went up to represent the Folk School and truly had a blast. We brought with us a timberframe booth we made and a shaving horse for giving trunnel (wooden peg) making demonstrations. I had such a fantastic weekend.
Since we had a booth at the fair we all took turns hanging out there, handing out catalogs, and talking with all the neat people that stopped to chat with us. When we weren’t at the table we got to go to however many workshops we wanted! I went to a bunch including: Building Interfaith Environmental Coalitions, Ultimate Downsizing (living in small homes off grid), Using Local Herbs (herbalism/wild foraging), Pedal Power (using bikes to teach about electricity), and a couple others I am blanking on right now. I learned tons and the instructors were all very inspirational.
When I first decided to move to Wisconsin I was nervous about what kinds of people I would be meeting. I definitely believe we are running out of oil and that our dependency is greater than ever—being at the Fair gave me hope for the future. As we drove the couple of hours North for the Fair we passed thousands of acres of industrial agriculture but also wilderness areas, beautiful rivers, and plenty of small farms. Part of my reasoning for becoming a Driftless Folk School work/study was to learn more skills for homesteading, farming, and living sustainably and not only am I feeling fulfilled through my host farm and the school but also by the opportunities it is giving me—like going to the fair.