Monday, June 6, 2011

Great Weekend at the Fair!

Whew, what a whirlwind of experience and knowledge.  Right now I feel like a kid just getting off the carousel; dizzy, giddy, tired, and ready to do it all over again.  June 4th and 5th, I attended the Mother Earth News Fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds here in Puyallup, WA, just a hop, skip and a jump from my homestead.

I have subscribed to this wonderful magazine for the past few years, and was totally envious when they announced last year that the first ever fair was being held in Virginia :( so never in my dreams did I think I would be able to attend a fair like this.  When 3 months ago, they announced that they were expanding the fair to 3 cities, and that Puyallup, WA was the first stop, I immediately bought my weekend pass, and was as excited as a kid on Christmas eve!  I eagerly awaited this weekend, and Saturday, woke up bright and early so I could make the 1+ hour drive South to Puyallup.  Unfortunately, my wonderful wife, was under the weather, so couldn't make the trip with me.

At 9:00 when the fair opened, I was one of the first to walk in, and attended my first of many lectures that day, this one called Herbal Apothecary 101, which was followed by Cheese Making: Fresh Mozzarella, which led me into the lecture I was pumped up to see: Ballet in the Pasture, by one of the true "Rock-Stars of Sustainability" Mr. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms:

The man truly is a rock star in this field, this was the single most attended speaker of the festival, and his book signing line  went on for more than 2 & 1/2 hours.  Needless to say, I didn't get a chance to speak to him :(

From here, I attended a lecture on Solar Energy in the Pacific NW, and then realized I hadn't had anything to eat since o'dark thirty....and found myself munching down on a gyro.  Which meant I missed a lecture from 2:00 to 2:45, but used that time to peruse the vendors.  Of which there were plenty.  I connected with a group that sells and installs made in WA solar panels, tucked that one away for future reference.  Then met another group that sells and installs innovative solar hot water heaters:

These tubes, heat the water without glycerine, and though this is a sample setup, the real deal has 20 tubes, and will heat enough water for a family of 4, using direct sunlight and UV rays, so it can be overcast and still work.  Total cost of install, is just shy of $2,500.00 more affordable than I thought.

I also found myself at the booth of Seed Savers Exchange, and chatted with those folk for 20 minutes or more, and walked away with Jacobs Cattle Beans, Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans, Amish Snap Peas, Borage, Vining Petunia, Love Lies Bleeding, and Sky & Ice Petunia seeds.  What a haul! 

I was left with enough time to make another lecture on Cold Process Soap Making.  Looks simple, this I will have to try.

From here, I went back out, and found myself mesmerized by people cooking in solar cookers:

Man, this is so easy, cardboard, white glue and tinfoil...I am so making one of these this week!

I did a turn around, to catch my breath and bearings, and saw this sign, and had to snap a picture:

This tent had some good info, many animals, from Cows, Pigs, Alpaca, sheep and goats...hmm no chickens anywhere??? Show me a homestead without a flock of girls, and you got nothing...We don't need no stinkin' cows :) It was still cool though.

I had planned to make another lecture, but was tired, and had a long drive home.

So up early again, and again, the wife was under the weather, so my bro (sinfonian) joined me for the ride down (hey carpool lane...luv it).  We got to the fairground and in just at opening 9:00 and were able to make a lecture called Backyard Bounty:

Payback for the posting photos of me in your blog... Glad you could make it Bro.

We got some good info at this lecture, but most of it was old news...guess that means we've learned something over the years...

We then walked around the vendors, my second time around, and my bro, seemed awfully interested in...bees?!? could the little buzzers be in his his blog carefully.  Heck I'm family, and even I don't know.  When we broke for lunch, he spotted another blogger, and we struck up a conversation.  She was there with her family, so we weren't the only ones to attend...glad others could make it.

Well, we then sauntered off to the keynote main-stage to find seats for the main speaker of the day.  So we got there early and saw a lecture about of all things...Beekeeping???  While it was a snooze fest for me...I lost track of my Bro, and if he was taking notes...or what???

Then it was blessedly over (not really, the Bee Dude had some great points about keeping bees sustainably, and had his own theories about Colony Collapse a nutshell, survival of the fittest, and was really at odds with most of the beekeeping world. 

But now was the time for the speaker I had come to see today...a man who needs little in the way of introduction:

Mr. Ed Begley Jr.

Would you believe my bro had to leave part of the way through this lecture??? I understand bro....really I do.  Ed Begley Jr. was eloquent, funny, a true professional.  Great points about being able to effect change, and it begins at home.  Amen.

Unlike the day before, where I missed a chance to meet Mr. Joel Salatin, I made sure I got to meet Ed Begley Jr.:

He loved the shirt, proudly made for Mother Earth News, it asks the question; " 40 years of oil left, 5,500,000,000 years of sunshine left; choose wisely.

Well, after chatting a bit with Mr. Begley, I made my way outside, fully intending to make my way back up I-5 and home, but the display on living roofs caught my eye:

Now to convince my wonderful wife, that since our backyard roof faces North, I have to pressure wash moss off every year. Making that part of the roof, living, with sedum's, and grasses, well who cares if moss comes to play as well.  I got some strong 'splainin' to do....

Now it was really time to go, but a demonstration on making and using an outdoor clay oven was to interesting to pass up...especially when they were baking bread in an already finished...

I can definitely see one of these...much larger of course, you really couldn't fit a pizza in this one, and if you can't do pizza, why build it???

Well, there was nothing between me and the exit now, so it was out the door, back to the car and 1 hour and 15 minutes back home...where I could relax, check on the girls, and share my day with my wife.  

Let me tell you, if you ever get an opportunity to attend a Mother Earth News Fair, I suggest you do so.  The amount of knowledge shared, by the speakers, and vendors is phenomenal.  I brought a notebook to write down all the wisdom I uncovered.  I know that info is probably out there in other places, but I got to speak to so many well informed, wonderful folks, that it didn't seem like learning, it was just chatting. Wow, I knew I forgot something...they had an organic beer and wine garden that I completely missed...dang

Well, it's now tomorrow, and I am truly spent.  Hope you enjoy this post.

Night all.

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