This past weekend I attended the Mother Earth News fair held in Seven Springs, PA. It was an 11+ hour drive down on Friday with an 11+ hour ride back on Sunday, but you know what? It was totally worth it.
If you have never been to one of these events, do consider going. It was my first time and I didn’t know what to expect, I mean I knew there would probably be some vendors and I had seen the flyer and knew that there would be some workshops, but I HAD NO IDEA.
The first thing you realize when you get to the fair is that you can breathe just a little easier. You realize, as you look around and see people wearing jeans, canvas jackets, and cotton that you are among your peeps. These are all people who are interested in what you’re interested in – a healthier and more vibrant life.
A Mother Earth New fair is not a fair so much as it is a cosmic event. Located at the Seven Springs Conference Center it covers area inside the center as well as outside.
Here’s a view from the 10th floor where my room was located of just what was going on outside (and even this doesn’t cover it all as there were many vendors around the corner.) Inside the center, you’ll find conference room after conference room filled with presentation stages and vendors who want to share their expertise with you.
“Don’t worry, I won’t spend any money,” I told Marc before I left. Silly, silly words. I ended up spending a lot just because I wanted to share some of the experiences with my family when I got back home (brown soap for the bathroom and two types of mead for Marc were among just a few of my purchases.)
There was so much to buy (of course, you didn’t have to buy anything, but you’d have to have strong self-will to do that.) From soaps to carved spoons, to fermented foods, herbs, tools, and even farm machinery – if a sustainable-living person couldn’t find it here, then she probably didn’t need it.
And the workshops. Every hour, there were several workshop (which to choose, which to choose) by someone on some aspect of sustainable living. Every time you sat down to listen it was like going to a classroom – the information that was freely handed out by the presenters was priceless. I found myself listening and taking page, after page of notes. There was so much material that I wanted to bring back home with me.
Which brings me to the books. Right in the middle of the conference, there was the “Mother Earth News bookstore.” Pile after pile of books, many written by the presenters (there were opportunities to get them signed) and also by people well-known in their fields. Ed Begley Jr. was there and although I tried not to be a stalker (big St. Elsewhere fan) I did manage to grab a photo when he wasn’t looking. Another big superstar was Joel Salatin and while I didn’t meet him, I did see him when I stopped by the large tent where he was giving a presentation using revival-like style (“And another thing folks, when I was young, I never even heard the phrase “food Allergy” – uh huh, yup, times have changed, they sure have!”)
Everyone, and I mean everyone wanted to share information and experiences. If you didn’t find the answer to your question it’s because you probably didn’t ask it.
I was fortunate, I had been invited to the fair and went to it knowing that I would already know others. (Robin, an editor at MEN took me under her wing and showed me around the fair making sure I was introduced to others.) But if you wanted to meet people, all you had to do was to say “hi” to someone and you had a partner in conversation. Pass by someone reading a book on a topic you were interested in and you’d found a new friend. When someone asked you about something you were holding (like that fabulous mead) you had an opportunity to share what you had just learned.
It was a gathering of like minds in the truest sense of the word.
Was it a long ride to get there? Absolutely, at times it felt like I’d never stop driving, but because I can’t stop thinking about the things I learned and the experiences I had, you can bet that I’m already planning to go back again next year and if you go, be sure to let me know so I can say “hi.”
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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