I recently had a chance to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, North Carolina. It was my first every fair of it's kind. I was surprised at how much there was. I originally signed up because my husband had a conference in Charlotte and I figured this would be a great event to attend.
For those not familiar, "The Mother Earth News Fair is your passport to money-saving hacks, health-boosting remedies, and environmental strategies from leading experts and entrepreneurs around the country." It's very informative, fun and hands-on event with plenty to do, learn, and check out.
I even got a chance to meet environmental activist Rob Greenfield who cycled across the country promoting environmental awareness and who walked around NYC with the trash he generated for a whole month to showcase how much the average American throws away. His book Dude Making a Difference is very inspirational.
So without further ado, here are my top tips for attending the Mother Earth News Fair.
Check out their schedule and see if one is stopping by your state soon.
1. Check the schedule and prioritize which to attend
The Fair is normally two days during a weekend and it is jam packed with speakers, presentations, workshops, vendors and plenty of experts to speak with about natural living, starting your homestead, raising chickens, making DIY cleaners, baking from scratch, etc. I would highly recommend reviewing the schedule ahead of time and mapping out who, what you want to see. A few of your favorite topics might be covered during the same hour so prioritize what is most important to you. By ensuring you have a schedule, you won't need to scramble to find your next event.
2. Buy tickets in advance
I highly encourage you to buy tickets ahead of time in advance. You can purchase online and just have your print out or confirmation number with you. Kids under 17 are free and dogs are allowed on leashes. Buying tickets in advance will save you time especially during the morning rush. If you are also attending a hands-on workshop, these events have a limited capacity to it's good to get your tickets early before they sell out. Of course, general admission tickets will be available at the door should you decide on the day to go.
3. Sign-up for a hands-workshop
For this event, I really wanted to do a hands-on workshop so I signed up for two: Sourdough Bread Making with Victoria Redhed Miller who is the process of launching her book "From No-knead to Sourdough: A Simpler Approach to Handmade Bread" and DIY Non Toxic Cleaners with Kate from Root and Revel. These were two fun and easy events. Each class was $15 and I was able to take home a sourdough starter and a few DIY cleaners along with plenty of instructions and good feedback from the instructors. As I was traveling, I did have to divide my sourdough so that I wouldn't get flagged by airport security, but all is good, they made it to NJ.
4. Dress in layers
The event I attended in Asheville was at the end of April, but slightly still chilly. It was windy, but the sun was out so during some parts of the day, the tents could get very chilly with the wind and no sun, but if you are doing a workshop indoors or outside, it can get hot, so dressing in layers is helpful to ensure you are adequately bundled up, but can remove a few layers to get comfortable. The Fair also goes on rain or shine so take a look at the weather before you go. Good shoes might be necessary if it's raining for the day. Most of the fair is outside so it's best to be prepared.
5. Bring your lunch and snacks
I would recommend bringing your own snacks and lunch especially if you plan to stay the whole day. This not only saves you money, but reduces the amount of waste you generate. There was a cafeteria at the Asheville location as well as food trucks, but this could add up if you come there with the family. They allow backpacks and coolers so I would recommend doing this.
6. Bring your reusable water bottle
Since this is fair about lots of things nature, I would encourage you to bring your own reusable water bottles to stay hydrated. This is especially important if the event you end up attending is in the middle of summer where it can get scorching hot.
7. Bring extra bags
Bring your bags as you may end up shopping. There will be lots of vendors there showcasing their latest tools, products, etc. The bookstore is very tempting and you can definitely get a lot of books from there. There may also be some samples that you can grab along as well as pamphlets and brochures for things that interest you so an extra bag will come in very handy. I brought my backpack with me which had my water bottle, snacks and an extra layer of clothing. At the end, it was full of items that I bought including a glass fermentation kit.
8. Get there early
I recommend getting there early so that you can get a good parking spot and get good seating to some of the early presentations and workshops. Many vendors will have their booths already setup by the time the actual fair and presentations start so you can get the day started early. I had to drive from Charlotte which took me less than 2 hours, but I was able to get there on time.
9. Come prepared with questions
Prepare your questions and get them ready. There's lot of experts there that can help you with any specific problem. Whether you have a question on sustainable farming, DIY solar, homesteading, raising chickens, preserving food, there's definitely someone who can help you. Your fellow attendees can be great resources too. So ask away!
10. Do a quick run through of all of the vendors
There are many, many vendors there. Some new, some old, some familiar. Know where they are and plan out which ones you want to see. If you don't have a particular vendor in mind, walking around is always nice at it exposes you to a wide variety of new companies and products to make natural living a little better.
11. Sit in the front so that you can see the presentations clearly
If you are like me, I'm a visual learner so I like to see the presentations. The challenge sometimes is that the tent can be pretty large and the screens pretty small so it's best to strategically find a spot where you can see the presentation screens. Sitting at the front or close to it can also get you access to the presenters much quicker if you have specific questions or want a photo.
12. Bring a friend, partner or kids
The Fair is open to everyone so there's lots for friends, partners and even kids to do. The topics range so everyone can find something to listen to. Bring a friend. This can be helpful in case there's two presentations you want to see at one time slot. Splitting up can be a great way to cover more ground. You can then compare notes later.
13. Be open-minded
Even if you don't have a farm and not planning to raise animals soon, the Fair is great place to learn more about natural living, the requirements of nature for our survival and how to use a little engenuity and elbow grease to be a bit more self-sufficient. Even if you are a city-dweller, there's a lot of value to attending these two days.
14. Checkout the Bookstore
The Bookstore is amazing. So many wonderful books to choose from. It can get dangerous going in there, but prioritize what you want. Perhaps, take pictures of books that you want and try to have your library get them on your behalf. This way, you don't have to pay for the costs and others can benefit from them also.
15. Have fun
Importantly, have fun. It's a great atmosphere to learn and meet new people.
Did you know I also write on Mother Earth Living? Check out my two articles there.