SolarFest this weekend

B y Jaime Thomas

Musicians, music lovers and sustainability enthusiasts are getting ready to take full advantage of the sun at the 19th annual SolarFest this weekend.

The sustainable living festival, which takes place from July 12 to 13, bills itself as the only event of its kind in the Northeast, where a traditional sustainable living fair blends harmoniously with a music and arts festival.”

The event will feature music, workshops and more.

New this year is a Mini Maker Faire, for makers, doers and inventors, and a climate camp from 350.org, an environmental activist group founded by author Bill McKibben.

“It’s a lot of like-minded people—it’s good for us and good for them. They’ll hold a workshop on the main stage to kick off the weekend,” said Patty Kenyon, managing director of the event.

She thinks the festival is a unique event for a number of reasons.

“There’s the educational piece about renewable energy; we show how it works, and then there’s the music festival. And the music is perhaps one of the event’s biggest draws.

“There is not a cheaper ticket price for a full-blown music festival than ours,” Kenyon said. “We have a lot of mix of music—soul, African, reggae, jam band, rock and roll, jazz and a contra dance.”

Among other performers will be Max Creek, the Skatalites and Seth Yacovone, and Kenyon said they will play longer sets than in previous years. And the entire festival, including the main performance stage, is run by 100 percent renewable energy.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Cohen will talk about taking money out of politics and will bring along his interactive Stamp Mobile, Kenyon said, adding that the festival affords opportunities for a variety of interests.

“The idea is to get people behind the gates and learn how to be sustainable and see solar in action,” she said. “They can come and learn, and when they’re done they can sit and enjoy the main stage. Or, they can just come and enjoy the music.”

She thinks people have a vision of Woodstock when they think of SolarFest but said it’s laid back.

“Think of it as more of a home show with music,” she said.

This year’s workshops cover such topics as renewable energy, green building, thriving locally and more. There are also many family-friendly activities including a kids stage and art areas.

The event, which typically brings in 1,500 to 2,000 people of all ages each day, takes place at Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, Vt.

A weekend pass costs $39 at the gate, and single day tickets are $15. Children 14 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. There is on-site camping and RV parking available. Forget-Me-Not Farm is located at 12 McNamara Road in Tinmouth, Vt. For more information about SolarFest, visit the website at www.solarfest.org.

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