"Kathy and I went to the Mother Earth News Fair today, but we were both a bit disappointed. Mother Earth News Marketplace would be more apropos in our viewpoint.
There was a huge turnout of people, and vendors covering a lot of topics to do with independent and sustainable living, but not so much in what we were personally hoping for. They did have speakers on different stages discussing a variety of sustainable living practices (like crop growing, canning, solar power), but I was only interested in bee related topics and the speaker I wanted to catch , Kim Flottum (editor of Bee Culture magazine), wasn't scheduled until 5:30 and we needed to get home earlier than that. Kathy is a fiber artist (spinner, weaver, knitter, spindler, etc.) and had expectations of seeing fiber animals and a variety of fibers for sale. We only saw three Corriedale sheep and two adult Alpacas with two crias, but virtually no raw or unspun fiber for sale. We did see some Shetland roving, but at $2.50/ounce we considered that not for sale either.
I did meet Shane Gebauer, owner/general manager of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, and got to tell him that their free shipping on orders over $150.00 was appreciated, and his employee Cathy, and my Kathy, convinced me to purchase a ventilated bee jacket. I told Cathy that I had looked at them in their catalog before ordering a standard cotton replacement jacket this past spring, but wasn't sure that I could trust a jacket having vent holes. She said they had given a suit to a fulltime beekeeper "down south" to test for a year (many days, 12 - 16 hours/day in the bee suit) and that he had reported back that he had been very comfortable, received very few stings, and that the suit was the most durable he had ever owned. So I'll see. It should be cooler, but it feels odd, kind of like a foam. But Cathy swore by it.
I also complimented Cathy on the new veil I had gotten with the jacket. It's a round zip on veil, and feels more durable than the zip on dome veil that I replaced several times due to tearing. She said she has been using her round veil for 7 years now and it's held up perfectly, even to her kids walking on it. So far I'm impressed with mine, and it's been tested on a couple of hot, humid afternoons!
I didn't see any other bee equipment vendors on site, but I did run into some Patz family members, of Patz Maple and Honey Farms in Pound, Wisconsin, and picked up some encapsulated propolis to save on shipping. I've been purchasing it from them online for years, and it was nice to meet Clifford (founder) and his grandson in person. They had several honey varietals for sale, and I told Clifford that I had recently extracted some honey that initially tastes like peaches and then morphs into a mint flavor. He told me about a 120 acre patch of mint where he sites hives and gets purple pollen and honey with a hint of mint. I told him I was offering my batch to friends and family only, to which he smiled and asked "See any mint on the table?".
So there were a couple of bright spots in the day, but it felt more like a farmers market than a fair. But in fairness (no pun intended), Mother Earth News is about a whole lot more than bees and fiber art. There were talks on animal husbandry, living off the land, planting and growing crops in the country and in urban settings, food preservation, solar power, electric cars, seed saving, and the list goes on. So we're glad we went, but we hope that it grows to include more things that truly make up a fair in the future. Could've gone for Bloomin' Onion and an elephant ear. :) "
Thank you for your report Gerard. Clubmember participation in this blog is greatly appreciated. Viewpoints of others make the blog more club oriented and less the viewpoint of the editor. Clubmembers keep the articles coming! Anytime you find sometime interesting you can email it to "firstname.lastname@example.org".