To help celebrate Earth Day, the fourth annual Sustainability Fair will be held Tuesday, April 22 at the ArtStart Building in downtown Rhinelander.
The fair raises awareness to environmentally-conscious alternatives in the Northwoods and will run from noon to 6 p.m. with a round table discussion on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle to follow at the Hext Theatre from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
While in just its fourth year, the fair has grown in popularity each time.
“We expect more than 300 people to attend,” Ann Eshelman said. “That is quite a bit for here and being on a weekday.”
While a weekend event might draw more people, Eshelman said the connection to Earth Day was important for organizers.
“We wanted to stick with Earth Day,” Eshelman said. “We invite schools to come and we will have some classes that will be coming in.”
And those that attend will have plenty to chose from with more than 30 exhibitions.
“We have many different kinds of vendors,” Eshelman said. “From the small local vendors to, this year, we have Walmart coming in. They are the biggest seller of organic produce in the country and they do a lot with sustainability projects. So they want to come in and talk about that.”
Other vendors include the Oneida County Beekeepers, food coop businesses and eco-friendly builders. While the vendors provide valuable information to those who visit the fair, they also get something in return.
“We had one food grower who got 14 new customers from last year’s fair,” Eshelman said. “That is huge for a small grower.”
Another organization that will be presenting at the fair is Nicolet College. And in a way, it is a type of homecoming for fair organizers.
“The first year, we held it at Nicolet College,” Eshelman said. “The turnout there was not great. We were disappointed as a committee.”
Both the college and the group decided to part ways and the event was moved to the ArtStart building.
“ArtStart was a perfect venue for us,” Eshelman said. “We get foot traffic from off the street. It has worked out beautifully for us.”
And Eshelman said the committee is excited to have the college at this year’s fair.
“They do a lot with sustainabilty out there,” Eshelman said. “They are a great addition.”
Another draw at this year’s fair will be the Raptor Center.
“They bring in their birds and it is always a favorite for kids and everyone in attendance,” Eshelman said. “They bring in their hawks and it is a great presentation.”
Those attending the fair will also have a chance to put their stamp on a piece of art. Connie Friesen of Wabeno is a mural artist and last year brought a mural to the fair and invited those in attendance to paint on it as community project.
This year, Friesen will turn to one of the city’s most recognizable symbols.
“This year, she has one of those big Hodags,” Eshelman said. “So we will be doing a sustainable Hodag. Last year, the mural was a huge hit. It was fun watching people intently painting.”
After the fair, a round table discussion on “What can the ordinary person do to live a more sustainable life style?” will be held at the Hext Theatre from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Experts in many different areas, ranging from landscape designers, to vegetable growers, to home energy specialists, to automobile mechanics will be on hand to answer questions and discuss practical strategies for being more energy-efficient.
For more information, call 715-362-4485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.