Solar Fest this weekend

T he final, crucial piece of the 18th annual SolarFest is falling into place this week.

“We’re pretty excited, because the weather is going to be great – somewhere between 75 and 80,” said managing director Patty Kenyon, who is in her seventh year of running the three-day festival. And no rain.

“There are different challenges every year,” she said. This year we have a new volunteer coordinator and a new education coordinator. It’s always a challenge to establish new relationships. It is going well so far.”

The event, which combines music, solar energy and a “green” philosophy, opens its gates at 11 a.m., Friday, July 20, and runs through the early evening of Sunday, July 22, at Forget-Me-Not Farm, 12 McNamara Road in Tinmouth, Vt.

Solarfest includes include music from top artists from Vermont and other states, many family-oriented activities, a wide variety of classes and a focus on sustainability that strives for zero waste for the weekend.

Kenyon pointed out the event lowered its prices this year.

A pass for the full weekend, beginning at 11 a.m., Friday June 20, is $39, and an all-day pass is $15. Children 14 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Vehicle camping is $20, but non-vehicle camping is free.

Dozens of workshops are scheduled for the festival. Among the focus areas are renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, “The Solar Generation,” and thriving locally. There will also be vendors covering all those areas, as well as food vendors with a focus on sustainability.

The musical lineup is in the hands of one of the event’s co-founders, Jim Gilmour of Middletown Springs, and when he looks from the past to the present and the future, his focus is on the volunteers and the music.

“It’s always stunning to look back at one’s life and see how many people’s lives have come together to impact one another. We have 200 volunteers every year, so it’s an amazing number who have made this work,” he said.

“Then there are the artists. I am proud to have working with so many top-flight acts who have come through,” Gilmour added, “That’s really what drives me now, creating a community of artists.”

 

Musical lineup

This year’s bands include popular local favorites such as Split Tongue Crow, Gold Town, and Banjo Dan and the Mid-nite Plowboys. Others include the Wood Brothers, the Adam Ezra group, The Grift, Patience, Katrin Rousch, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and Soul Monde.

The annual singer/songwriter showcase is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. Last year’s winner, Laura Herscovitch, will be on stage as well.

There will be family-oriented concerts on the schedule.

 

Keynote speakers

There are two major keynote speakers planned for the weekend, one at 5 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.

Steven Strong, who will speak Saturday, is president of Solar Design Associates, a group of engineers and architects dedicated to the design of environmentally responsive buildings, and the engineering and integration of renewable energy systems.

Bill McKibben an internationally known author, will speak Sunday.

He has written a dozen books about the environment, beginning with “The End of Nature” in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009.

Further information is available by calling 802-235-1513 or at www.solarfest.com.

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