TINMOUTH-It may come as no surprise that Forbes Magazine and
many other publications have consistently ranked Vermont as the
greenest state in America. Vermont boasts the smallest carbon
footprint per capita and has been recognized for its support of
alternative energy, recycling programs and limitations on toxic
waste. Therefore, it stands to reason that one of the best solar
energy festivals in the world is right in our backyard, this
weekend July 20-22, at Forget Me Not Farm in Tinmouth.
SolarFest is a three day conference and music festival that
seeks to embody their simple yet vital mission statement:
"SolarFest blends art, education, and outreach to inspire
conservation, promote renewable energy, and support sustainable
communities." The non-profit organization has been demonstrating
the power and possibilities of solar energy for 18 years and this
year's festival promises to be bigger and better than ever with
over 20 musical acts keynote speeches from Bill McKibben and Steven
Strong, and more than 60 workshops and seminars.
"This year I'm really excited about our new initiative, Business
to Business Friday, and our special Friday programming," said
Managing Director Patty Kenyon. "We are holding the first of its
kind commercial solar roof racking competition to test out, in real
time, the ease of installation of four of the most popular
commercial solar roof racking solutions; I can't wait to see how
this plays out. I'm also excited to have Central Vermont Community
Action Council's weatherization trailer at our event for the entire
weekend; I think folks are really going to love this exhibit."
Despite its growing size and popularity, SolarFest remains a
volunteer organization. The entire three day festival is run on
renewable energy, and it's a "zero waste" event. The idea of no
waste, no dumpsters and litter at a music festival may seem
impossible. Indeed the concept is foreign to most Americans in the
21st century. SolarFest manages to eliminate waste by implementing
thoughtful systems and education. All materials used at the event
are designed to be reused, composted or recycled. For example, food
vendors use cutlery mad of bamboo, cornstarch or potatoes and look
and feel like plastic.
Marshall Squire, owner of The Forget Me Not Farm, who has been
welcoming the festival to his farm in Tinmouth for the last seven
years says the 5-8,000 attendees are the best neighbors you could
ask for. "If you go to the concert field on Sunday morning, you'll
be amazed at what you don't see. There simply isn't any trash, no
trace of the thousands that were here all day," he says. "Take a
look at the Rutland Fairgrounds after an event a fraction of this
size. You're knee deep in trash. It shows that people can
behave this way. We, as a species, are capable of this."
For many festival goers, the highlight of the weekend is the
music. This year event organizers have booked a splendid and
diverse group of musicians. Many performers are Vermont based and
include Gold Town, Duane Carleton, The Grift and Split Tongue Crow.
Plus some larger, national acts like the Adam Ezra Group and the
critically acclaimed Wood Brothers who are sure to draw a crowd.
There is even an electronic dance party that will rage into the
night with a soundtrack provided by DJ Sinna-G. There is something
for everyone's tastes this year and as always, the entire festival
is powered by the impressive array of solar panels on site.
In between the sets of music, attendants soak up the education
that SolarFest has to offer. This is where the event really
demonstrates its importance to the community. Squire says, "We just
squeak by [financially] but a successful SolarFest is when all the
people who come here take their knowledge out into the world. In
that sense, its way beyond whether we make money or not, it's the
spreading of knowledge that counts."
Sustainability workshops include "Solar Financing Options", "Net
Zero Houses" "Bioenergy Now! Made in Vermont" and "Solar Water
Heating for Homes and Businesses" to name just a few of the many
The greatly anticipated keynote address by Bill McKibben on
Sunday, is also a highlight of the event. McKibben is "probably the
nation's leading environmentalist" said The Boston Globe recently
and Time Magazine described him as "the world's best green
journalist." He is currently a Vermont resident and a Schumann
Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College.
SolarFest is thrilled to have this visionary award winning
author, journalist and environmental activist as their guest.
SolarFest prides itself on being as affordable and rewarding as
possible. The organizers have responded to a slumping economy by
finding ways to lower ticket prices despite the increase in
activities. "I'm excited about our reduced ticket prices, $15 per
day, $39 for the entire weekend, children 14 and under get in
free," Patty Kenyon said. "Where else can you go for $15 and have a
chance to see four or five great bands, attend a day full of
workshops, watch a great play, and keep your kids entertained? If
you've been thinking about checking us out, this is the year to do
Visit SolarFest.org to learn more about the event details.