A Fair to Remember
This past weekend I attended the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA with our managing editor, Ingrid Witvoet. This is a bi-annual event with the second fair taking place in Seven Springs, PA every September.
Twice a year the office staff at New Society dukes it out (in a non-violent, friendly kind of way of course) to see who will get to attend the two fairs. You know when people are jostling for a chance to give up their beloved weekends to go and work, that it must be a lot of fun and not anything like work. (Don’t tell the boss.)
New Society Publishers are partners in the Fair. The event plays host to over a dozen of our authors offering workshops on topics from microhydro, backyard gardening, homesteading, biodiesel, solar power, bioshelters…well, you get the idea.
With over 120 workshops offered over two days and nearly the same amount of exhibitors, there is always something to see and do. Keynote speakers this year included Ed Begley Jr, Joel Salatin,Paul Stamets, Will Allen and our very own Linda Gilkeson and Scott Davis – plenty of inspiration and diversity!
One of the highlights for me was watching as the 2000 seats at the keynote stage overflow capacity to standing room only for Joel Salatin’s talk. The buzz and excitement were palpable. It was like waiting for your favourite rock band to take the stage except in this case, the rock star was a farmer. It is tremendously inspiring to see people’s adoration shift from movie and television stars to celebrating farmers, mycologists and renewable energy innovators. It truly gave me hope for the world and humanity.
Another highlight for us NSP folk is getting to spend time with New Society authors who we work with all year but often don’t get the chance to meet in person. It turns out we don’t just publish authors on the cutting edge of their field but they are genuinely nice, fun, inspiring people, as well. And it would appear from the animated conversation over food and drinks that they enjoy meeting one another as fellow travelers on the journey to help create a sustainable world. The speakers don’t get paid to be at the fair, they attend because they want to make the world a better place…and maybe sell a book or two!
The on-site bookstore was rockin’! Books were selling out like crazy, the lines up wound through the makeshift aisles. I thought I was in the twilight zone. When was the last time you had to push your way through a bookstore? These were not cabbage patch dolls or iPhones people were lining up for but real, hands-on, paper books!
We all know we are living in a fragile time and it is easy to get overwhelmed and shut down and ignore what is happening around us, but the staff at Mother Earth News were able to create an event that not only educates but inspires and empowers people to take part in the change they want to see in the world. And Mother Earth News and all their partners did that and more. I think it is fair to say everyone who left the event felt more connected, capable, inspired and hopeful. How could you ask for anything more?