Michael Torttorello offers an informative and exciting overview of the MREA Fair’s history and the passionate participants who make it possible.
By Michael Tortorello
At 9 o’clock Friday morning, some 20,000 people will start arriving at a
vast field in Custer, Wis., to talk about wind power. No joke. Get
this: Thousands of souls have been coming here every summer for 23 years
to talk — really talk — about wind power.Here is the Energy Fair,
a three-day convergence of homesteaders, hippies, ecotopians and more
than a few end-times enthusiasts, staged by the Midwest Renewable Energy
Association. Beyond the lecture titled “MacGyver Windmills” (that is,
devices fabricated from junk), a $15 day pass gets you admission to 200
other workshops. Would you like to learn about home algae cultivation
and humane rabbit husbandry (for meat and wool)? How about advanced
photovoltaic systems and D.I.Y. biodiesel?
The overarching theme is what marketers call “sustainable living,” and
these days it hardly qualifies as a kooky pursuit. Many of the fair’s
longtime commercial exhibitors, manufacturers of solar-energy technology
or rainwater harvesting kits, could now find a home at the Home Depot.