Kempton is a small town in eastern Pennsylvania that sits in the Blue Mountains, very near where visitors bird watch at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and take in the breathtaking views from the Pinnacle along the Appalachian Trail. Each September, it is home to the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival. Hundreds of ideas and techniques for creating an environmentally sound future will be the focus of the 2010 festival from September 17th through 19th.
The festival, now in its sixth year, is hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (MAREA), a non-profit organization run by volunteers who come to the organization as experts, activists, or concerned citizens, but all share the same vision for the planet. The event that started as a bit of "if you build it, they will come" inspiration now draws over 10,000 visitors each year with its perfect balance of fun and sense of purpose.
Renewable energy experts, vendors and hobbyists from across the region unite at the festival for a lively exchange of knowledge and ideas. More than 100 presenters will explore solar electricity, solar hot water, wind, micro-hydro, alternative transportation, energy efficiency and green building over the course of the three-day festival. Visitors learn first hand from live demonstrations of renewable energy in action, including solar electric and hot water, wind, biodiesel processing and solar cookers.
Workshop participants will get hands-on training in timber frame construction and converting vehicles to run on vegetable oil and electricity. Dozens of alternative fuel vehicles will be exhibited, including electric conversions, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and battery electric Tesla Roadsters. And, some 200 vendors will be showing products and services designed to foster a healthy relationship between people and the planet, providing information, giving demonstrations and answering questions.
Sustainable agriculture is also a focus of the festival, which will feature a farmers market sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). A variety of vendors will offer healthy options for every taste. As part of its mission, the festival considers where food comes from, what we eat and how our waste can be a recoverable resource.
Cellist and vocalist Ben Sollee, named a Top Ten artist by NPR's Morning Edition, is the special musical guest. Sollee is a committed environmentalist. On his latest CD, Dear Companion, the Kentucky native collaborates with fellow Kentuckians David Martin Moore and Yim Yames to bring attention to the issue of mountaintop removal. The Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival is part of his "Ditch the Van Tour". He'll be making his way to Kempton on a bike equipped to carry his cello.
Oscar Lloveras, internationally-known nature-inspired landscape artist, will grace the grounds with his first U.S. installation. His hundred-foot fabric sculpture supported by a sixty-foot pole will provide a magnificent backdrop to the festival grounds.
"I want viewers to have a feeling in their stomach when they see it. It must provoke something inside them, create a reaction, or else it is not art. It is merely a decoration," says Lloveras, who has been working on the piece in a donated warehouse space in nearby Allentown. Several of his smaller works will be exhibited in the festival's eARTh art gallery.
Family-friendly entertainment includes children's activities, a sustainable fashion show, and musical and dance performances powered, incidentally, by a portable solar sound system.
"We're proud of the array of events we're able to offer our visitors whether they're renewable energy professionals or folks just starting to think about a sustainable future," says Dan Brown, MAREA's president.
The serious matters of renewable energy production, energy efficiency, and sustainable living underlie every facet of the festival. A special screening of Gasland, the award-winning documentary by Josh Fox, looks at the environmental and health consequences of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and at sites around the country. Throughout the festival, indie documentary distributor Bullfrog Films will screen films including Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez, a timely look back, in the wake of the BP disaster, at the 20 year fight for restitution from Exxon after the 1989 oil spill.
All speakers, exhibits, entertainment and films are included with admission. Admission: $12/adults; $6 /12 to 18; under 12/free. Camping is available, $15/day per campsite.
The festival runs 9 a.m. Friday Sept. 17 through 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kempton Community Center, Kempton PA 19529 (north of Route 78 between Allentown and Reading). Learn more at www.paenergyfest.com or facebook.com/PAEnergyFest or contact Dan Brown 610.509.4354. To schedule interviews, request press passes, contact Karen Feridun 610.678.7726.
MAREA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, dedicated to informing and educating the public on renewable energy production, energy efficiency and sustainable living through meetings, workshops, educational materials and energy fairs.
About Karen Feridun
Karen Feridun is the newest member of MAREA's board of directors. She was recently appointed to the Berks County Solid Waste Authority and serves on her town's Environmental Advisory Commission. She's also very active in the United Sludge-Free Alliance, an organization fighting the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer, and Clean Water Action's Gas Truth, a citizen's group fighting drilling of the Marcellus Shale. She's a co-founder of Berks Progress, president of the Kutztown Area Democratic Club, vice-chair of the Kutztown Planning Commission, founder and host of the Kutztown Area chapter of Drinking Liberally, and a monthly columnist for the online magazines, CommonSense2.com and GoIndie.com's Side Dish.