So I convinced my lovely wife to join me this past weekend on a trip to beautiful and exotic Topeka, KS! We attended our first Mother Earth News Fair.
My first impression is I thought it would be bigger and outdoors. I understand some of the other locations may have been outdoors, but this one was inside the ExpoCenter. There were plenty of great vendors and multiple stages with presentations.
Regarding the presentations I have two observations: First the ones we attended were very basic level information on whatever the topic was being discussed. For example, we went to one about beehive inspections. The speaker asked how many people already had bees and I would guesstimate over 60% of the crowd raised their hands. Then he asked how many are thinking about getting bees and I would guesstimate about 10% of the crowd raised their hands. To me this meant it was a more advanced crowd and he should have quickly covered the basics for the 10% and spent most of his time on advanced topics. Instead it started with “this is a beehive” and “these are frames” and got slower from there. I will try to find a way to suggest to the fair organizers to mark the sessions with the level – beginner, intermediate, advanced so people know what to expect.
Second I was a little disappointed in the crowds. Confession time, I was fan boy-ing a little at some of the speakers. For example, Joel Salatin spoke Sunday morning at the main stage. I got my lovely wife up early to be there so we would be sure to get a seat. Turns out we could have slept in, the crowd never filled the area by more than about 70%. It could be the basic level of some topics and unless this was your first fair you may have already heard it. For example with Joel Salatin and Elliot Coleman it was the same discussion I have seen from them on the internet and probably the same speech they have been giving for years.
All that said I tried to take something new from each discussion and we only walked out of one to go to another. The speaker got preachy real fast and we got the feeling there wasn’t much instructional information coming, so we went and heard Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily talk about ducks! 🙂
My favorite session was one from Marjory Wildcraft of The Grow Network on “How to produce half your food in less than an hour per day in a backyard”. I mostly liked it because her system included chickens for eggs, garden for fruits and veggies, and rabbits for meat. Three things we already are doing!
Finally a couple of shout outs!
Food trucks – the food we got was delicious and the rest smelled heavenly! A good variety to choose from!
The guys at the Norwood Sawmills demonstration area who patiently answered all my sawmill related questions
Same for the gentleman at Premier 1 Supplies booth who patiently answered all my electric fencing related questions
I took several pictures of speakers, but from a distance with my cell phone they turned out terrible. So here is the one good one I took just before I got to the front of the line to ask Marjory Wildcraft a question:
Marjory Wildcraft at Mother Earth News Fair Topeka, KS 2016