Last weekend, while many Vermonters were celebrating one of the summer's first dryspells (finally!), others were tucked away at Forget-Me-Not farm in Tinmouth attending the 19thAnnual SolarFest, a lively mix of music, kids activities, educational workshops and solar exhibitors that attracted those on the grid, off the grid and everywhere in between.
SolarFest began 19 years ago as merely a dream — literally.Nance Dean, SolarFest’s founder, dreamt one night of close friends walking overa hill on her farm to a performance stage. Dean lived off the grid, so thestage was completely solar powered. She shared her dream with artsy pals andmade it happen. Patty Kenyon, the current managing director of SolarFest,recalled this history with me before my exploration of SolarFest began.
According to Kenyon, Dean’s first SolarFest was primarily amusic and arts festival powered by the sun.
Indeed, at this year's Fest, bands such as Kina Zorel, Jesse Dee, Melodeego, the Skatalites, Max Creek, DJ Sinna-G and Sparkplug lit up the stage — an "outstanding lineup of entertainment," said SolarFest President Steve Goldsmith (pictured, below, with daughter Sarah Goldsmith.)
But today, while performances still entertain guests, solar education seems to trump the beats coming from the main stage. Although the performances brought quite a crowd thisyear, Goldsmith reports that the majority of theattendees — almost 60% — likely came to learn from exhibitors and workshops.
“Our 2012 survey indicated that just over half of the peoplefilling out the survey said that education was the primary reason for attendingthe festival," Goldsmith explained.
And there was plenty to see.
Click here to read more about SolarFest on the Vermont Tech Jam blog.