The Longest Running Solar-Powered Music Festival and Sustainability Conference in the Northeast
By Steve Goldsmith
Twenty years ago Nance Dean had a dream about people coming to her farm for a solar-powered music festival. She told some friends, and together they transformed her dream into reality. SolarFest was designed to demonstrate the viability of renewable energy and start dialogs about sustainability and the environment. From its humble beginnings in the beautiful hills of Vermont, it has spread the message of sustainability and renewable energy throughout the Northeast.
Now, SolarFest is the preeminent sustainability event in New England. It will celebrate its 20th anniversary festival at Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth VT, just over the hill from where it began. SolarFest has been a Vermont Top Ten Summer Event, receiving the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and a Rutland Herald Reader’s Choice award. This year Yankee Magazine named SolarFest an Editor’s choice Top 20 Summer Event.
SolarFest brings renewable industry leaders, innovators, highly experienced users, and newcomers together in a family-friendly environment full of great music, food, theater and fun. It gives folks a weekend to relax and re-invent the way they look at energy, environment, and community.
SolarFest takes place July 18-20. All three days will have workshops for all skill levels, displays of new technologies, and opportunities to chat with experts. There’s a full-blown music and theater festival, powered by renewable energy. The sustainable marketplace will feature vendors and equipment manufacturers demonstrating new renewable energy technologies, food, crafts, and sustainable products.
Musical highlights include Break of Reality (a cello rock band), Entrain, Bow Thayer, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lukas Nelson and P.O.T.R., Waylon Speed, Barika, Start Making Sense, Eastbound Jesus, SolarFest House Band and Soule Monde.
Family stage performances include favorites Jennings & Ponder, Derek Burkins, Rick Davis, & Puppet Pageantry.
An all-new play by renowned author Frank Asch will debut in Theater in the Woods.
Alec Guettel, the co-founder off Sungevity, Inc., a world-leading residential solar company, is the Saturday keynote speaker.
The Sunday keynote speaker is Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods—which Newsweek called “the fermenting bible”.
More than 80 workshops will be offered in seven different tracks.
Renewable Energy workshops include several on solar energy ranging form introductory to advanced, compost heat recovery, heating with biomass, and the 3rd Solar Roof Racking Challenge. Festival site tours will include visits to each of the solar and wind power systems used to power the festival. There will be demonstrations on solar cooking, off-grid PV, fuel cells, and a Prius drive system. A very big solar concentrator will melt stuff.
Sustainable Agriculture & Food workshops will be offered in partnership with Green Mountain College. Highlights include growing rice in Vermont, small farm energy use, fermentation, solar powered weed control, and urine as fertilizer. The Rich Earth Institute will be collecting urine for fertilizer from special port-a-potties.
Thriving Communities will highlight public banking and energy investment, forming member-worker owned cooperatives, creating a durable New England local economy, advancing community change, socially responsible investing, and stories from the Transition Towns movement in Vermont.
Youth & Family highlights include an opportunity to view solar activity, making sundials, building and racing solar cars, worm composting, and tie-dye. This year there is an expanded Kid’s Corner in partnership with Wonderfeet Kid’s Museum, and a musical petting zoo.
Green Building highlights include tiny house building, Button Up, solar thermal, hybrid home, deep energy retrofit and a look at modern yurts.
Climate Change workshops are being offered by 350.org, running their 2nd annual Climate Camp at SolarFest. Topics include where peace meets the environment, UN climate negotiations, and climate activist campaign strategy.
Green Transportation highlights include hands-on building an electric motorcycle, retrofitting vehicles to use cooking oil, and experiences with solar PV and electric vehicles.
The second SolarFest Mini Maker Faire® will happen on Saturday July 19th and Sunday July 20th. It will bring together regional Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts to learn from and be inspired by the makers’ creativity and innovation. The SolarFest Mini Maker Faire® is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.
Steve Goldsmith is the president of SolarFest, Inc.