Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary weekend passes to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, Wisconsin. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated.
To say the Mother Earth News Fair at West Bend, Wisconsin this past weekend was a whirlwind of speakers, vendors, wares and like-minded people would be a complete understatement. Quite honestly two days just is not nearly enough time to see everything that needs to be seen and hear everything that needs to be heard!
My parents had already ordered and gotten their weekend passes well before the fair and had booked their hotel room at the Hampton Inn & Suites West Bend so I'm grateful that they let me tag along because it really was quite the experience to be had.
Last year and this year the Mother Earth News Fair was held at the Washington County Fair Park grounds in West Bend. I've been to several county fair grounds in my day and I have to say this was hands down the nicest facility I've ever seen! Not only were the buildings beautiful, clean, and inviting but the grounds themselves were gorgeous and nicely kept.
In between sessions we had a 30 minute time span that we could use to get to the next stage we needed to be at, wander around at the many different vendor booths, go to the bathroom in one of the two main buildings, or get something to eat.
Of course I did all those things but I often found myself wandering the grounds just because they were so gorgeous and picturesque; with the two beautiful days thrown in how could you not take a little time out of the busy scheduled days to bask in the now?
The way the speakers and sessions were set up was there were 12 different stages throughout the grounds and each session ran for 1 hour each starting at 10:00am and running through until 6:30pm with a 30 minute break in between each.
That means each day there were 60 sessions happening at any given time. Sadly people could only attend, at most, 6 sessions each day if you wanted to stay for the full hour-long session. With there being 3 of us, (myself, my mom, and my dad) we were able to split up and take advantage of different classes so if one of us couldn't attend a particular session, the other could and would bring back the information they learned to share.
I was able to attend 8 out of the 12 sessions I could have done in that 2 day span. I skipped a few time slots because I might not have been interested in the classes that were being held at that particular time and with all the go-go-go business of the weekend my body needed a few resting intervals that I gladly gave it.
A few of my favorite sessions I was able to sit through included Arthritis in the Garden-How to Lower Chronic Pain Without Drugs with Shawna Coronado, Kombucha and the Human Microbiome with Hannah Crum, and Nature's Pharmaceuticals with Billy Galloway. Of course there were a lot more I wish I could have attended but I had to prioritize.
For the most part these speakers knew what they wanted to convey and did it beautifully; there was a lot of knowledge and inspiration taken away from that weekend and I have the handouts, notes, pictures, and most importantly, ideas swimming around my head to prove it!
There were two main buildings, a large barn, and a good majority of the outside grounds that boasted many different vendors and exhibitors with their multitude of wares. You could find anything from sweet treats and beverages to large industrial farming machines complete with live demonstrations to handmade clothing and jewelry to even educational booths teaching you about animals, invasive plant and animal species, and more.
By the way I learned that it was that llama's birthday as I stopped to take a picture of him. For he's a jolly good llama! I hope they gave him a special treat.
In the middle of one of the main buildings you could find the Mother Earth News bookstore that carried many different varieties of books on so many different subjects; gardening, bee keeping, homesteading, farm animals, cook book and recipe books, and so much more! Those attendees who pre-ordered their tickets online were also provided with a 25% off coupon good at the bookstore so there were at least a few people in there at all times just wandering and checking things out.
A majority of the speakers who spoke during their sessions over the two days had books to offer and were kind enough to do book signings after their classes.
There were quite a bit of vendors to look at an explore but I did have a few favorites. I ended up buying myself some tea from Green Rich Tea. The guy was super nice and walked me through the process of where and how the tea is grown and harvested in Japan. He also noticed my Totoro tote bag so we both talked about our mutual love for Miyazaki and his films.
I also splurged and bought myself an oil diffuser necklace from Connie Jacoby of Wise Woman Botanicals. It's not just any ol' diffuser necklace though; it's a re-purposed knife handle made into a necklace! How could I pass that up?
And who could forget La Croix sparkling water! They were generous enough to hand out cans of their flavored sparkling water to the fair goers each day for free and with the temperatures in the high 70s most of the weekend it was greatly appreciated. I had always been curious about their water and was thrilled when I finally got the chance to try it.
While not quite what I pictured for the Mother Earth News Fair, the food options included several food trucks and a spot where the local 4-H was selling normal fair type foods.
According to some of the returnees from last year's fair, my parents included, the food options were definitely more abundant this year. To save some money and time my family and I packed our own lunches the morning we left instead of partaking in the fair food. We'd meet up around lunch time in our van which wasn't parked too far away and have a lovely family lunch where we would discuss the first part of our day before we parted ways again.
Truth be told all three of us noticed many other people doing the same thing during their lunch breaks so it must have been a popular idea!
Aside from the 4-H food and the handful of food trucks you could also buy some food and treats at many of the various vendors booths. I saw some baked goods, chocolate, coconut ice cream, protein smoothies, and more spread throughout the grounds.
There was a particular frozen fruit bar that I had been eyeballing all week but alas, I waited too long and wasn't able to get one before we left. Now it is my life's mission (okay, at least one of them) to locate Pop Culture Gourmet Pops and eat them!
While the whole experience was such a wonderful treat for everyone involved there were a few things we thought needed some attention for next year, or at the very least future Mother Earth News Fairs in general:
1. Maps. There were quite a few stages where the sessions were being held throughout the grounds and it got a little confusing even with the maps that were provided. Not only did my mom and I miss out on one or two sessions because we had issues locating which stage it was on, I overheard several people saying the same thing. I think the stages could have been a little bit more properly advertised.
2. Recycling. Of course there were garbage cans and bins spread out throughout the fair grounds but a good majority of them were the same color and not labeled very well. Seeing as this was the Mother Earth News Fair we would have loved to see more green recycling bins as much as the blue garbage bins all labeled for people to easily see and tell which they should use.
3. Food. Like I mentioned above from what people told me there were definitely more food options than last year, however seeing as it was the Mother Earth News Fair I was hoping to see more organic, natural and locally sourced food options as opposed to normal fair type foods. I'm sure the food was delicious none the less but for people who have dietary restrictions or are trying to opt for healthier choices this type of food really wasn't ideal.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend spent learning about many different things, meeting new people, trying new things and having some quality family bonding over shared interests. I'm beyond thrilled my body decided to cooperate with me; aside from being wiped out towards the end of each day and fluctuating pain levels, I'm still pretty shocked I did that well over the two day span.
I certainly hope the fair comes back next year because I would go again in a heartbeat! I've also come to the conclusion that from now on when I go to events I will be wearing a Totoro bag of some sort so people can recognize me; would you believe I was waved down 3 different times because of my tote bag!
If you're interested in seeing more of my Mother Earth News Fair adventure you can check out my Twitter or Instagram profiles or friend me on Facebook where I posted several pictures and videos from that weekend and will be uploading more pictures to an album when I'm finished editing.
I will also be doing interviews on the blog with some of the speakers I saw in the near future so make sure to keep an eye out for those; these woman are quite the powerhouses when it comes to their individual specialties and I'm very excited to share some of their knowledge with all of you!
Connect with Mother Earth News Fair: