Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Saturday Morning at the Fair

My Saturday morning at the Mother Earth News Fair was delightful. The rooms at Seven Springs were gorgeous, log cabin style accommodations. My "pet friendly" room was not what people expect (AKA smoking room on the first floor). Instead it was a super clean, smoke-free room complete with a ground-level door out to a dog exercise area complete with doggie baggie stations and bins for clean up. Pretty nice for the traveling dog owner, and nicer still for the hotel not to have canines running amok.

Gibson did a bit of running amok. He loves elevators. Soon as one opens he jets inside, spins around, and just smiles back at you. It's on you to race in with him or else he ends up on some mystery floor and you have the second act of a bad romantic comedy. So I did a lot of running into elevators. There's never a dull moment with a Border Collie on board.

After a team breakfast with the rest of the Storey Authors I started exploring the fair. I walked through the ALBC tents first, to meet the animals who had come along with their farmers on exhibit. There were sheep, llamas, goats, alpacas, chickens, cows, geese and pigs inside that space along with booths to ask any question you wanted about everything from milking techniques to bacon yields. I spent most of my time eyeing a flock of beautiful Leicester Longwools from West Virginia and left with a naturally colored gray ball of roving to try out on my wheel when I got home.

Since I already dropped fifteen dollars, I decided to spend another ten and then call it quits for the day. I got six bags of seeds from Southern Seed Exchange (who was running a special) and pocketed them like magical golden tickets in a chocolate bar. Out of all the things I could buy at the fair—and there was everything from tee shirts to llamas— I was thrilled about a winter harvest of kale, hearty lettuce, and other greens. I think this means I'm growing up.

Shopping done I made my way to the indoor conference room where, believe it or not, eight chickens were going to die in front of 600 people. If that sounds a little horrific or exploitive, it wasn't. This was a demonstration of chicken harvesting equipment and a detailed instruction from Joel Salatin. For those who know me, you know that hearing Joel speak (Even about chicken guts) is a treat and an honor. I look up to that man, very much so. And I wasn't alone in my admiration either, there were literally hundreds of people, from little kids to a few elderly Amish couples listening in on the best ways to process their birds. Everyone had baited breath...

Four Cornish Crosses and four Freedom Rangers were slaughtered quickly and without fuss in an 8-cone, wheel of killing cones. From there they went through some Cadilac scalding and defeathering aparati and were then handed to Joel, who could clean them perfectly in under 30 seconds. I took mental and physical notes and considered the whole workshop a success. The fact that everyone was more interested in actually learning about harvesting the animals and no one was there for the shock value or protest was a huge jump in the DIY community's mindset to me. This is progress, when we can talk about preparing dinner without writhing in our seats worried about the fact an animal had to die so we can eat hot wings. Of course an animal had to die. And the people at the event were not interested in the politics or argument as much as the most humane and ethical ways of going from chick to chicken sandwich. I applaud the whole fair for pulling it off. And Joel made it all seem possible, easy, and was vastly entertaining on stage.

After Joel's talk I met up with Brett and some CAF readers. Meredith and her friend Tara were there, along with some interns from Polyface that were rooming with her outside of Seven Springs. This is one of my favorite things about the MEN fair, it's meeting up with readers in person. Comments and emails are wonderful, but actually having someone show up for a workshop in person at my home or at the fair is the bee's knees.

By this point the Fair was in full swing. At least 20,000 people were milling around, shopping and absorbing classes and workshops all over. It wasn't even lunch yet and the place was swarming with eager people clammoring to take the Urban Beekeeping or Emergency Prepping workshops. Indoor classes abounded, outdoor demos and tent talks lit up the atmosphere. It was like a crunchy Southern Tent Revival, only you know, with alpacas. Brett and I were overwhelmed and headed inside to the conference center area. There was a HUGE gymnasium-sized book store set up and walkways of vendors and more conference areas. Brett and I both wanted to hear a local teacher (local to us in Veryork, not PA) from Green Mountain College talk about common homesteading mistakes. His talk was so packed we sat on the floor between rows of chairs. I could not believe the crowds, even compared to last year.

I think this self-reliance thing is catching on....

More later! I'll write about my talks, people I met, the keynote and sitting next to Temple Grandin for dinner! It was AMAZING!

P.S. I am announcing a spring Herbalism 101 workshop for April later today, taught by a trained herbalist and good friend, author and television personality, Kathy Harrison!

P.P.S. People have asked me about the text ads on the site and if they click on them does CAF get money? The answer is yes, that is how it works. You can click them or ignore them, that's your call.

P.P.P.S. Also announcing a garlic seed giveaway tonight from Annie's Seeds! This blog is ON FIRE people!


Blogger Unknown said...

FYI - I would be interested in a Herbalism 101 workshop webinar if you did one.

September 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM  
Anonymous janet gordon said...

Sounds like it was my kind of Fair! Thanks for the report.
BTW the non-robo code gets more and more frustrating and I suspect is lowering your number of commenters significantly. This will be my fourth try and I will move on if this one doesn't get accepted. Cheers!

September 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

You would have LOVED it janet! I met a woman from Halifax who was a storey author and she was a riot.

And I removed the robot test! But if I get 1,000 spam emails to moderate it has to go back. It is a pain in the butt, I know, but without a test to see if you are human spam machines destroy my inbox.

September 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Sounds like a very informative day!!!!! You are so lucky to get to watch Joel harvest chickens, he is a farmer to look up to for sure!

September 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous janet gordon said...

I know getting spam comments is a royal pain in the butt - I get them. Have googled Niki and will check her out - the name rings a bell. Getting ready to take a pile of stuff down to the local church where I'm convening the annual quilt show this weekend. Must run! and thanks!!!

September 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger jls said...

Meeting you was the bee's knees. :-) The fair far exceeded my expectations. I had not even heard of the magazine until a month or so earlier, and I was totally grateful to learn the fair was only an hour from home. I'm lucky.

September 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Tammy Smith, Cottontail Farm said...

Hi Jenna,
We drove 2 1/2 hours from NW PA to attend the fair on Saturday... it was awesome to see the vendors, speakers and the huge amount of people that all gathered to be a part of it. We sat in on talks on cold weather salads, wild fermentation and heard Joel Salatin speak. After reading the blog for years, it was an honor to hear your 5:30 presentation. I really do feel that not only am I part of my little local backyard farm community, but that I am also part of a larger one, as well. Thank you for taking the time to present on Saturday.

September 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Did someone say garlic seeds? I wish I could have gone to the fair, sounds just like my kind of thing. I'm gearing up for organizing a small perhaps monthly gathering for biodynamic farmers and gardeners in my area (NH) to support each other. So much going on, so much to do....

September 26, 2012 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

That's awesome about the chicken harvesting workshop! The whole fair sounds amazing - would love to make it there someday :)

September 26, 2012 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

I am so glad to hear that it was packed this year! It is encouraging. I found out a friend of my mom's and mine was there speaking about alternative energy for farms and homesteading. Next year I will find a way to go! Are you speaking next year?

September 26, 2012 at 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

I would love to hear more about the speaker on homesteading mistakes. Does he have a blog? book?

September 26, 2012 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Have you ever been to the Common Ground Fair in Maine? It just happened over the weekend but I think you would enjoy it if you ever get a chance to visit (or speak there).

September 26, 2012 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger DJ's Farmette said...

I was so stoked to meet you in person at the fair!!My friends have been teasing me that I could be president of the Jenna Woginrich Fan Club!!They all get Made from Scratch Books for their b days and yes they are getting barnheart (if they dont already own it) for their b days next year!!! LOL I was so disapointed that I couldnt stay to hear you speak. I did show for your sunday workshop but saw it was cancelled, so I was really kickin myself for not hearing you on sat night. We learned so much at the fair. It was overwhelming for this small town girl, but I was mastering it pretty well by sunday( it helped that the crowd wasnt as big, I get easily year it will be a breeze to me!

September 26, 2012 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was asked to volunteer at the fair, but couldn't make it this year. Next year, I have every intention of going!
A couple I know who sell at our farmer's market with me went and I can't wait to ask them how much they enjoyed it.
Glad it was a good time for you and you got to take a break before winter sets in.


September 27, 2012 at 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Cindie K. said...

THe Fair was amazing, awesome and SO inspiring. Meeting Bryan Welch, Temple Grandin, and you was a dream come true for this little homesteader wannabe from WV. Before the Fair I had no idea who Temple Grandin is. Since the Fair, I have studied her website and books for hours! I enjoyed your talk immensely, as well as Joel Salatin's. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that we were with our "tribe." Amen! I can't wait to go back next year!

September 27, 2012 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Cindie K. said...

And I forgot to add that one of the most memorable components of your talk was the importance of community and starting a "need fire." I am looking forward to gathering that support community and to be of support to others who are like-minded.

September 27, 2012 at 7:57 PM  

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