Last year was the first time in recent memory that many electric utilities increased their sponsorship of The Energy Fair.
As customer-owned solar became more affordable and popular in recent years, utilities that once supported our education efforts began to reduce or eliminate support. The turnaround in sponsorship interest last year was a result of our efforts to demonstrate the potential of electric vehicles. As it turns out, electric utilities are in full support of everyone switching from gas station pumps to home charges. Count us in this camp also. We see tremendous opportunity in "beneficial electrification" that transitions to clean, renewable sources of electricity.
We had been working with one new utility sponsor to host their exhibit and I was eager to meet their representative and hopeful that we could continue to grow the partnership. Once he arrived, I immediately introduced myself and asked if he had been to the Fair before. To my surprise, he had been to the event a number of times to drop off and pick up his kids. They had been two of the hundreds of volunteers from the Wisconsin Farmers Union that help set up, manage, and tear down the event. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that I am consistently impressed and inspired by the volunteers that come from WFU... well done!
The Energy Fair offers over 250 workshops to choose from, all presented by topic experts, as well as Keynote speakers, live music, documentary screenings, and breakfasts hosted by Organic Valley with Peace Coffee served and fruit and bagels donated by the Stevens Point Area Co-op. Workshop topics
My first experience at The Energy Fair was as a volunteer 15 years ago. Little did I know at the time that acceptance, community involvement, and living by example were the simple ingredients to The Energy Fair recipe. Sure, we still market clean energy and sustainability; people love that stuff. I do and I did 15 years ago. And don't get me wrong, it's important. Really important. But, I now realize that how we think about things, how we use our time, and how we treat people are the true agents of change. For many years I wondered why The Energy Fair seemed like the densest concentration of really great people in any place I had ever been. Turns out, they knew something I had to learn. And, despite my skepticism, I continue to be taught year after year. It seems like a lot of us could learn and maybe re-learn this lesson.
Why don't you come to The Fair this year? Maybe you could teach me something. Maybe you'll learn something. Either way, you'll meet some great people.
The Energy Fair is the largest and longest running renewable energy education event in the country. This year's event (June 15-17 in beautiful Custer, Wisconsin) marks its 29th year. Wisconsin Farmers Union is a proud sponsor of the event, and our camp staff will be volunteering throughout the event.