10 October 2011

A review of the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania on September 24, 2011. It was a great experience, and one that I'd recommend to others. So that you can get a feel for what it's like, and if it's worth your time and money, here's a brief overview of the event.

Buying your tickets in advance is the way to go, since they were just $15 per person for a 1-day pass, or $25 per person for both days. Since we didn't know for certain that we could go until very close to the actual day, we bought 1-day passes at the gate, which were $5 extra. Still, $20 is not a bad price for the amount of information that you get.

If you're not fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance, you'll need to find accommodations. Staying on-site at the Seven Springs Resort is an option, but if you want to do that, make your reservations well in advance, since the place books early (as do many of the hotels in the nearby areas). We ended up staying about 40 minutes away and driving to the fair on Saturday morning. FYI, there are a number of campgrounds an state parks in the area, which is another option if you're so inclined.

A view of the main outdoors fair area
The fair had a few outdoors areas, as well as some indoors ones. You can see the layout of everything, along with what all was available in the downloadable program (a 15 MB PDF file).

The outdoors areas were full of "green" and environmentally friendly exhibits and businesses, such as green burial options, jewelry made from recycled magazines, an RV revamped to run on biodiesel, and a booth promoting Organic Valley products.

Of course, there were many things related to self-reliance too. Some of the booths exhibited things like a Smart Log Splitter, portable sawmills, livestock demonstrations, wool-to-yarn production, hand-powered or bike-powered blenders and grain mills, solar power systems. There was plenty to see, and you could get lots of ideas and information, evaluate pricing, get samples, and so on.

There were a few food vendors scattered around outdoors (including some tasty hemp pretzels and the best decaf mocha I've had in a while). There was also a "food court," which had a decent variety, but was fairly pricey, as you might expect.

Indoors, there were two main exhibition halls with vendors' booths. There was a variety in the vendors's offering, but a significant number of them had green, do-it-yourself, and self-reliance books for sale. The highlight of the book selling was the massive Mother Earth News book area, which offered hundreds of titles and had a signing area for some authors who were also presenting workshops over the weekend.

Backwoods Home Magazine was there too, with a discount on subscriptions to their excellent self-reliant magazine. They also had a few of their anthologies and other books on self-reliance topics.

Perhaps the best part of the fair was the workshops. It's just not possible to attend all of them, but there is such a wide variety of topics that there's something for everyone.

Two workshops of interest to me were When Technology Fails and When Disaster Strikes, both by presented by Matthew Stein, and named after his books by the same names. These workshops were one of my main reasons for attending, but because of their popularity, I only got to attend one. I'll be giving a more thorough review of that workshop, along with a sound clip from it, in a future post.

All in all, the Mother Earth News Fair was a good experience, and one that I'll consider attending again. For those of you living nearer to the west coast of the US, Mother Earth News also puts on a similar fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington, in June.

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