Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair set for Aug. 17-18

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Rising energy and food costs weaken the economy and make it harder for families to make ends meet. Attend the annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17-18, at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill., and pick up some ideas about how to cut these costs. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $4 adults per day or $6 for both days, and free for children 16 and younger.

The event’s name is a mouthful, but we need all of those words to adequately name and describe it. The 2013 fair provides an opportunity for people who are interested in using renewable energy to meet those who provide equipment and services, and for those who are interested in living sustainable lives to learn about products and techniques to help them.

The fair, now in its 12th year, has been referred to by the Clean Energy Community Foundation as a “respected and expected event” and recognized by state energy organizations as Illinois’ premier energy event.

Exhibitors and workshop presenters will cover topics including climate change, using solar, wind and biomass to produce electricity, alternative heating and vehicles, energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and communities, healthy home building and remodeling, sustainability, organic gardening, food preparation and preservation, planning for the future and healthy lifestyles.

Speakers at the Illinois fair are known for their excellence in both content and presentation style. Each year, internationally known speakers and authors have agreed to make keynote presentations. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, speakers have come from Iceland, Peru, Germany and Sweden. This year’s keynote speaker will be Andrew Nikiforuk from Calgary, Alberta, a Rachel Carson Award-winning journalist who has written about the oil and gas industries for the past 20 years. His Saturday presentation (noon) will be based on his book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. His Sunday presentation (11:45 a.m.) will be based on another of his books, The Energy of Slaves. Throughout history, ruling classes have used slaves to do all of the work needed to maintain their way of life. Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuel has replaced human slaves. Nikiforuk claims each of us would need 100 slaves working 24-7 to provide us with our current lifestyle.

Other speakers will cover numerous topics. Each year, the fair provides threads for those with specific interests. Those interested in transportation can find workshops about that topic. Others interested in energy in its many forms will find workshops to their liking. Sustainable living covers many topics, whether directly or indirectly energy-oriented. This year, an entire thread will follow food from creating a successful garden through growing fruits, vegetables and animals to food preservation and preparation of delicious, healthy dishes. Primitive living skills, game processing and stocking an ecologically-oriented kitchen will complete the thoughts.

Recycling, including electronics, will be provided.

The fair location has been praised for its beauty, natural ambiance, scenic qualities, camping facilities and overall atmosphere.

To allow widespread availability, a modest entry fee will allow access to all exhibits, children’s activities and free parking. Only food and purchases are extra.

As a result of the annual fairs, new residents have moved to the area to build energy-efficient homes, and old residents have upgraded their homes and energy systems. Some of these will be on the annual Tour of Solar Places Saturday, Oct. 5. We hope more will follow.

Check out the booths, exhibits and speakers at Exhibitors support the Illinois Renewable Energy Association; we need visitors to support them.

Major sponsors of the fair are The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Rock River Times, Northern Public Radio, Ogle County, Clean Line Energy Partners and the Kickapoo Conservancy.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail

From the Aug. 14-20, 2013, issue

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