Yesterday I spent the day with Andrew Perkins and Robert Riley, the two gurus of Mother Earth News fairs. Loyal readers of this blog know that July 17 and 18, 2020, Polyface Farm will host the first ever on-farm Mother Earth News Fair.
I'm secretly hoping for 5,000 folks each day, for a total of 10,000. So far all the fairs have been held at fairgrounds or commercial spaces like Seven Springs in Pennsylvania. None has ever been held on a farm.
After huddling all day, we parted excited that it will be do-able and will actually happen. Back when the Polyface-only field days approached 2,000 attendees, we knew we could not continue without a great partner. Mother Earth News is that partner.
Chief Perkins (that's what I call him) has overseen about 50 fairs and his chief lieutenant, Robert, nearly that many. These guys are unbelievably savvy about the logistics, the public relations, attendee expectations and programming. Traffic flow, parking, registering walk-ins without slowing entry traffic--these are all critical points in an endless array of choke points.
But with maps and tape measures in hand, we walked through it, looked at all the shelter spaces, and went through protocols step by step. While the fair will have the tried-and-true attractions that brand all Mother Earth News fairs, we will offer several decidedly unique experiences that are impossible on fairgrounds.
Like we can have lots of live fires for making charcoal or Dutch oven cooking. We can see all the points of interest--moving cows, moving chickens, Millenium Feathernet and pastured pigs. Expanded workshops in processing, construction, and on-site wild edible plant foraging will make this one of the most interesting and inspiring fairs ever.
We're expecting more than 300 vendors in the alternative energy, livestock, alternative health care and homesteading fields. If you've ever wanted to put your hands on the infrastructure and expose your head to self-reliance and do-it-yourself living, this will deliver all of that in spades. We don't have all the programming nailed down, but by combining the expertise of Mother Earth News with ACRES USA and Stockman Grass Farmer along with Polyface, this promises to be THE place to be in 2020. If you only attend one ecological living event, this is the one to attend.
Is this a sales pitch? Yes and no. We are not doing this to make money, although we don't expect it to be charity either. We are doing it for the same reason we started our field days 25 years ago: to bring more practical vibrancy to a somewhat sterile environment. You can see things on a power point in a hotel room, of course, but there's nothing like being out on the land, in context, with all the senses engaged, to really get the full-on info-tainment high. Back then, it was to offer something different than a hotel conference room. Today, it is to offer something different than a commercial space.
As we formalize the programming, I'll keep you up to date on developments. Oh, another reason to try to knock it out of the park--let's show the stodgy orthodoxy that we lunatics aren't as tiny as Wall Street thinks. We're growing and we're gaining influence. It's time to get some respect, and a 10,000-person fair on a farm in Swoope would make some naysayers stand up and take notice.
How about it? Are you in?