Grassroots Energy Fair Defies Odds and Celebrates 30th Anniversary this June

This June 21-23, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is hosting its 30th Anniversary Energy Fair in Custer. It’s the grassroots event that founded the MREA as a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. Like the MREA, The Energy Fair has become a staple for those interested in clean energy and sustainability, drawing nearly 10,000 attendees to rural Custer to learn from 200-plus workshops and more than 200 exhibits, to make connections, and work towards a sustainable future. The First Energy Fair was hosted in 1990, in Amherst as a response to a 1989 call to action published in Home Power magazine.

Much has changed since the first Fair three decades ago. Home Power printed its last magazine this year, and solar and wind are now the leading source of new electricity generation in the United States. On the flip side, the U.S. is set to be a net exporter of oil and gas, and yet is still embroiled in conflicts across the Middle East. At a time in history when renewable technologies are not yet embraced by the establishment, the Energy Fair proactively addresses the importance of taking action toward a sustainable future.

MREA’s Events Manager, Jordan Pupols elaborates on the significance of this year’s historic Fair, “For 30 years, the MREA has been proud to have this incredible channel, driven by thousands of knowledgeable and passionate people, to provide the expansive set of tools our attendees are seeking to move forward in their sustainability journey. The world is continuously changing, presenting our global community with evolving ecological and societal challenges. Through the Energy Fair, we’re determined to meet those challenges with innovative and inspiring solutions; solutions that anyone and everyone can implement into their daily lives. Increasingly, we're witnessing this important shift toward securing a sustainable future in the cultural, economic, and legislative arenas, which tells us that the momentum to achieve essential changes is there – as a society, we just need to harness it.” 

Education is at the heart of the Energy Fair, featuring over 200 workshops, the majority of which are 50 minutes in length and included with the price of admission. Always presented by topic experts, these workshops span dozens of genres related to clean energy and sustainable living. Interactive and educational events will also be held during the Fair, such as: Sustainable Farm & Garden Tours, a clean transportation vehicle display, chef demonstrations, a taping of the popular solar podcast, SolarWakeup Live!, and many more.

The 30th Anniversary Energy Fair features new attractions, “Our two largest content expansions for this year are in Energy Efficiency and Conservation and Sustainable Farm and Garden workshop categories. Several of our state’s forefront energy efficiency professionals will be present to share their knowledge on Wisconsin’s path to a fossil fuel-free future. We’ll be offering two tours of local organic farms highlighting sustainable agricultural practices, along with three special cooking demonstrations, including an appearance by Around the Farm Table’s Inga Witscher,” says Pupols.

Keynote speakers include prominent environmental, societal, and economic leaders like renowned Geologist and Earth Historian – Naomi Oreskes, whose work, The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, laid to rest the idea that there was significant disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of global warming and its human causes. Additional keynotes include Bethany McLean, Rosa Clemente, and Curt Meine.

More than 200 exhibitors will be selling and displaying innovative products for home and business. Products include but are not limited to: solar and wind electric systems, energy efficient appliances, educational books, recycled products, artisan gifts, and much more. The Energy Fair offers exhibit space to only those who work directly with issues relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable living, or environmental conservation.

 “Whether you’re interested in expanding clean energy, sustainable gardening and food preparation, propelling your community forward in their sustainability efforts, clean transportation, or maybe, just jamming out to a couple of our ten musical acts, there is something for you at the 30th Anniversary Energy Fair,” says Pupols.

The Energy Fair has adopted a festival-style music schedule that includes ten bands performing all weekend long on two stages (one of them human-powered) and two open mic sessions. See performances from bands like Dead Horses, People Brothers Band, Art Stevenson and High Water, and more. Family-friendly performances by aerialists, sustainable signing with Tom Pease, a live raptor show, and more kid-friendly programming has been scheduled. 

Refreshments including fresh local food, an espresso bar, an iced maple latte stand, solar-brewed beer and more will be served. The Energy Fair implements zero-waste practices, serving all products on compostable or reusable dinnerware. The sale of water in plastic bottles is prohibited. Recycling, waste, and compost containers are clearly marked.

In an effort to bring clean energy and sustainable living education to the largest audience possible, the MREA works to keep admission prices low, and offers free entry to volunteers, kids 12 and under, and MREA Members. Discounted tickets and camping are on sale now at or by calling 715-592-6595. The Energy Fair happens rain or shine. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established in 1990 after the First Energy Fair. MREA proudly serves a mission to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. Learn more about MREA’s initiatives and educational programs at www.midwestrenew. e

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