Happy 30th Birthday, Energy Fair

By Patrick Lynn

MREA’s Energy Fair turns 30 this month.

The grassroots event from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association kicked off its first event in 1990; it was a chance for those with interests in the fledgling renewable energy industry to come together for fellowship and to share ideas, spur development, and spread awareness.

Today, those sustainable energy industries are no longer fledgling—many are, in fact, a powerhouse—and the event draws 10,000 people to rural Custer each June.

This year’s event will be held June 21-23 at the MREA.

MREA’s Events Manager, Jordan Pupols, calls the event an “incredible channel” for those interested in sustainable living.

“[It’s] driven by thousands of knowledgeable and passionate people, to provide the expansive set of tools our attendees are seeking to move forward in their sustainability journey,” Pupols said. “The world is continuously changing, presenting our global community with evolving ecological and societal challenges. Through The Energy Fair, we’re determined to meet those challenges with innovative and inspiring solutions; solutions that anyone and everyone can implement into their daily lives.”

Education is at the heart of The Energy Fair. The event features more than 200 workshops, most of which last about an hour and are included with the price of admission. Workshops are lead by industry experts and span dozens of genres related to clean energy and sustainable living. This year’s event includes sustainable farm and garden tours, a clean transportation vehicle display, chef demonstrations, a taping of the popular solar podcast, SolarWakeup Live!, and many more.

Also featured during this year’s cooking demonstrations will be Inga Witscher, popular for her “Around the Farm Table” television show on Wisconsin Public Television.

Keynote speakers include geologist and “Earth Historian” Naomi Oreskes, who wrote the 2004 Science Magazine article, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”. Additional keynotes include Bethany McLean, Rosa Clemente, and Curt Meine.

More than 200 exhibitors will be selling and displaying innovative products for home and business, and include solar and wind electric systems, energy efficient appliances, educational books, recycled products, artisan gifts, and more. Exhibit space is limited to only those who work directly with issues relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable living, or environmental conservation.

This year’s affair has adopted a festival-style music schedule, with 10 bands performing throughout the weekend on two stages—one of them human-powered—and two open mic sessions. Performers include Dead Horses, People Brothers Band, Art Stevenson & High Water, and more.

Family-friendly performances by aerialists, sustainable signing with Tom Pease, a live Raptor Show, and more kid-friendly programming have also been scheduled.

Vendors will also offer fresh local food, an espresso bar, an iced maple latte stand, and solar-brewed beer.

Pupols said The Energy Fair implements zero-waste practices, serving all products on compostable or reusable dinnerware. The sale of plastic bottled water is prohibited, and containers for recycling, waste, and compost are clearly marked.

The Energy Fair will go on rain or shine.

Tickets for the event are available at TheEnergyFair.org or by calling (715) 592-6595. Online ticket sales close at midnight on Sunday, June 16.

MREA is located at 7558 Deer Rd., about 10 miles east of Stevens Point on Hwy. 10.