Fair Demonstrates the Power of Renewable Energy

Each summer, near the time of the summer solstice, the sleepy little town of Amherst Wisconsin (population 964) becomes a mecca for renewable energy enthusiasts from around the world.

Visitors come from such faraway places as Nicaragua, Scotland, Australia, India, Japan, and most of the states in the U.S. About 12,000 visitors in all make the trek to central Wisconsin to participate in what has become the largest renewable energy gathering in the United States. The Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair, fondly called the Energy Fair by the locals, is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases the power of renewable energy. The Energy Fair features hundreds of educational workshops, exhibits, and displays on solar and wind power, hydroelectric systems, alternative construction, transportation, and other sustainable living topics. Presenters and speakers are national experts in their fields, most with dozens of years of practical experience with the technologies. And, with over one hundred vendors on site, visitors to the Energy Fair can return home with everything from product literature to a complete solar electric system to power their home. The Energy Fair is organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), a non profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency through education and demonstration. The MREA has been hosting the Energy Fair in Wisconsin since 1990. This year’s Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair will be held June 22-24, at the Portage County Fairgrounds in Amherst, Wisconsin. Highlights of the 2001 event include: working solar and wind systems that will provide most of the power for the Fair; 107 workshops for the general public (free with paid admission; special workshops and activities for children, teachers, and educators; on site model home featuring solar electric and water heating systems, straw bale and cordwood construction, and energy efficient appliances; and bus tours to local homes that use alternative energy. There will also be food, entertainment, and festival type activities. There will be two keynote speakers at the Energy Fair. On Friday, June 22 at 6:15pm Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and co-founder of Green Peace, will address the Energy Fair audience. Watson is a Canadian conservationist and environmentalist who has become internationally renowned for his daring, innovative, and aggressive approach to the field of wildlife conservation. On Saturday, June 23 at 1:30pm, a second keynote will be delivered by Julia “Butterfly” Hill. Hill is the founder of the Circle of Life Foundation and is best known for her two-year long “tree-sit” in the redwoods of California. The action was intended to stop Pacific Lumber from the environmentally destructive process of clear-cutting old growth forests. The Energy Fair will open each day at 9:00 am and close at 7:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 5:00 pm on Sunday. General admission for the fair is $8 per day or $20 for the three-day weekend. Proceeds from the event support the MREA’s educational efforts. To learn more about the MREA and the Energy Fair contact: MREA, 7558 Deer Road Custer, WI 54423 715-592-6595 or visit our web site at


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