Monday, October 1, 2012

Mother Earth News Fair 2012 - Exhibitors and Vendors

Even though my primary focus at the Mother Earth News Fair was the workshops, I did take some time to visit the booths of several vendors and exhibitors. We bought several items, and stopped by several additional booths. I thought it might be helpful to do a post about the various booths that I visited at the fair.

Our first stop on Friday was the Earthineer booth. That gave me the opportunity to chat with Dan, the creator of the site, for a bit. I'm glad that I stopped by when I did, as every other time I passed by the booth Dan was busy talking with other fair goers. I would like to be able to volunteer to help work the Earthineer booth sometime, but I can never seem to find enough extra time between workshops. Dan did give me a nice burlap tote bag with the Earthineer logo, which several people asked me about, so hopefully that helped to drive a bit of traffic to the booth.

Over the next few days, I visited several other booths, as did Andrea. Rather than trying to list the booths in the order in which I visited them, I thought it might make more sense to group them based on the type of product or information they were promoting. Click on each category to be taken to a more detailed description of each vendor/exhibitor and my experience with them.


The fair itself had a large "bookstore" set up in the exhibit hall. In addition to the bookstore there were several publishers with booths of their own.


Other than books, one of the items I was most looking forward to purchasing at the fair was garlic. For the past two years I've purchased seed garlic at the fair from Enon Valley Garlic. This year I used their website to pick out 8 varieties that I wanted to purchase.
  • Enon Valley Garlic - I made the mistake of not buying my garlic at the very start of the fair. Every time I passed by the Enon Valley booth they were packed, which should have made me realize it was a mistake to wait as long as I did. By the time I stopped by the booth towards the end of the day on Saturday they had sold out of many of the varieties of garlic I had planned to buy. I was able to pick up three varieties, including Inchelium Red, Tochliavri, and Silver Rose. I was very disappointed to not be able to get any Stull, which I've only ever been able to buy from them. I'll definitely have to either get to their booth earlier next year, or maybe even play it safe and order online. I later stopped back by the booth to see what other products they had available. They had a variety of garlic products including cooking wine, hummus, and pickled garlic. Since I had never tried pickled garlic before, I decided to try a sample. I wasn't crazy about the flavor. Its definitely not something that I plan to buy or try making at home. I'm glad I was able to try a sample to learn this.
  • Lambert Mountain Acres - When I first stopped by this booth I didn't think they had anything I was interested in for planting, as they only carried one variety of garlic, Korean Red. I went ahead and picked up a bulb for eating, but nothing for planting. After realizing that I wasn't going to get everything I wanted from Enon Valley, though, I was double checking the other vendors selling garlic against my list and realized that Korean Red was on my list after all. I went ahead and bought 5 more bulbs, some of which I'll probably eat, but most of which will be planted. In addition to selling garlic, they also had a few other products. I tried a sample of their garlic buffalo wing sauce. I wasn't a big fan, but maybe that's because I don't eat wings. 
  • D. Landreth Seed Company - The D. Landreth Seed Company had several of varieties of garlic available, but nothing that was on my list that I wasn't able to buy elsewhere. I actually looked twice, just to be sure, because the had so many different varieties. 
  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange - Southern Exposure also had several varieties of garlic available. I was able to find one that may have been one I was looking for, but I really am not sure. I had the Polish variety on my list, and they were selling a variety called Polish White. The description made me think that maybe it was the one I was looking for, so I took a chance and bought a pack. Unfortunately they were only selling the garlic in 8 oz packs, so I bought more than I otherwise would have.


Much like the way I had been waiting until the fair to buy garlic, Andrea had been waiting until the fair to buy seeds. She has had a list of what she wanted to buy for quite some time, and the fair provided a good opportunity to buy the seeds from the types of companies that we consider trustworthy sources.

  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange - Andrea bought several types of seeds from Southern Exposure. She bought a pound of Winter Rye and half a pound of Hairy Vetch which we will plant as cover crops for the winter. She also bought Anise Hysop, Cayenne, Habanero, Roma Tomato, Dill, Caledula, and Sage.
  • Botanical Interests - Botanical Interests was selling seeds for $1 per pack, so Andrea bought as many of the seeds from her list from them as she could. She bought Lavender, Echinacea, Early Jalapeno, Serrano, Garlic Chives, Chives, Chamomile, Feverfew, Mammoth Russian Sunflower, Parsley, and Marigold.
  • D. Landreth Seed Company - We didn't buy anything from the D. Landreth Seed Company, but I thought it was at least worth mentioning them.

  • Miscellaneous

    We also bought items or tried samples from several other booths.

  • Bo's Bones Gourmet Dog Biscuits - Andrea wanted to bring the dogs back a treat, so she stopped by the Bo's Bones booth. She ended up buying them each a Jack o'Lantern shaped dog biscuit. They also gave her a couple of small samples for free. I gave the samples to Luke and Jack yesterday and they seemed to like them. They aren't used to eating that type of thing, so it was a nice treat for them. We haven't given them the bigger ones yet, but I expect that they'll enjoy them.
  • Bumbleberry Farms Heritage Select Honeys - We stopped by this booth early on and I saw a product that caught my attention. They were selling a lotion bar, which I thought might be a good alternative to traditional lotion. My skin gets really dry in the winter, but I don't use lotion like I should because it is so cold. I thought that I might be more likely to use a solid lotion. We didn't buy anything that day, but I stopped back by later and picked up a Lotion2Go Bar. It was packaged with a free lip balm. They also gave me a coupon that is good for an online order, so if I like the product I may go ahead and order a larger bar so I can use the coupon.
  • Sue's Salves - I didn't stop by the Sue's Salves booth, but Andrea did. She ended up buying a Living & Planting by the Moon 2013 Calendar. That seems like an odd product to buy from a company that specializes in beauty care products, but you just never know what you'll find when you stop by a booth.
  • Sun Oven - Sunday morning I had some time to kill before my first workshop started, so I stopped by the Sun Oven booth to get some info about their Solar Oven. I was impressed by what I heard, so wanted to get Andrea's thoughts on maybe buying one. During my last workshop of the day, Sustainable Living Simplified, John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist mentioned that they had purchased a Sun Oven, and wish they had done so much sooner. They said that after only a couple of years it had easily paid for itself. When I met Andrea at the end of the day, I mentioned the Sun Oven to her, and she said that she had been considering getting one. We went back to the booth and talked to them, and decided to go ahead and order one. It arrived a couple of days ago, but we haven't used it yet. I think it will turn out to be a good investment.
  • Hempzels - I wanted a snack one day, so decided to stop by the Hempzel booth and try one of their soft pretzels. It made an okay snack, but I'm not completely sold on the idea. The taste certainly can't compete with a traditional soft pretzel.
  • Cabot Creamery - I ended up stopping by the Cabot Creamery booth twice. The first time I tried a sample of their Hot Habanero cheese, which certainly lives up to its name. The second time I tried the Horseradish cheese. Both were very tasty, and I would very likely buy either of them in the future. The local Walmart and Kroger stores do carry Cabot Creamery products, but according to the website neither carries the flavors I sampled. I'll have to see which flavors they do carry, however, and maybe try one of them.
  • O'Keeffe's - Andrea stopped by the O'Keeffe's booth and picked up a sample of their Working Hands salve. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems like it might come in handy this winter. 
  • Gorilla Glue - Andrea also stopped by the Gorilla Glue booth and picked up a sample of their product as well. I can't imagine that it'll be hard to find a use for a small tube of glue at some point.

  • Other

    We didn't buy something or get a sample from every booth that we visited. In fact, I stopped at several booths where I only browsed their offerings or talked with someone about the product or information they were offering.

  • Affordable Barn Company - I stopped by this booth on Sunday, but no one was there to answer questions. They had a building on display that was set up to serve as a small off-grid cabin. It was much nicer than I would have expected. The price seemed very reasonable as well. It isn't something that Andrea and I need, but I think I'll pass along the information to a friend who has been looking for a low-cost, temporary housing option.
  • BCS America - I had looked at the BCS Tractors last year, but decided to stop back by this year after they were discussed in the workshop Hoeing the Long Row. I was pretty sure I knew the answer already, but I wanted to verify that there was not a loader attachment available for the tractors. Unfortunately I was right. Otherwise I would probably be strongly considering purchasing one.
  • The Evergreen Institute - The Evergreen Institute is a renewable energy education center ran by Dan Chiras. I dropped by the booth and glanced at the books to see if they had any of Dan's books that I had been wanting, but had not yet bought. I ended up not buying anything, though, and since Dan wasn't there to chat with I didn't spend much time at the booth.
  • The Homestead General Store - This store had several interesting items for sale. I looked at a few garden tools, and noticed that they were selling the Sun Oven, even though the Sun Oven vendor also had a booth.
  • The Natural Building Network - I stopped by this booth a couple of times and received some very useful info. They people working the booth were very friendly and helpful. I was able to get their impression of the CobWeb Archives, which is a set of books I considered buying in the past. I also learned that the people who run Disputanta Cob, which offers local cob building workshops, had trained under one of the ladies who was working at the booth. It wasn't until I got back home that I realized I was actually a fan of the Natural Building Network on Facebook. 
  • Nature's Head - We stopped by the Nature's Head booth last year and talked to them a bit about their composting toilets. I stopped back by this year to look at their display model to get an idea of how it handled the diverting of urine. It works the way I expected, in that it probably works fine when sitting but would not work well when standing.
  • Smokeless Heat - I had thought that I read in the fair program guide that this vendor sold high efficiency stoves. I stopped by their booth to talk to them, but the man running the booth was busy chatting with someone else. While waiting I looked at their literature and realized they only sale boilers, not traditional wood stoves, so I decided there was no use in waiting around.
  • Weston A. Price Foundation - Every time I stopped by this booth they were very busy. I didn't get the chance to talk to anyone or look at their literature. Andrea was able to talk to them, however. She suggested I try to talk to them, as she thought I'd like what they had to say since they have a focus on real food, which is something I am very interested in.
  • Breeze Dryer - I didn't stop by the Breeze Dryer booth this year, but we have talked to them at each of the past fairs. After the first year we ordered one of their rotary drying racks, and the second year stopped back by to tell them how well it was working and to ask them a question. The man remembered us because when our purchase had been delivered we left it on the back porch for a while before installing it and Luke tore into the box and chewed through some of the lines. Andrea had to contact them to request a new set of lines, and he remembered  us because it was such a strange reason to need replacements.
  • Bush Hog - Last year I stopped by the Bush Hog booth to talk to them about pull behind mowers. They had previously carried a model that could be pulled behind a four-wheeler, but it had since been discontinued. I didn't stop at the booth this year.
  • Grainmaker - We stopped by the Grainmaker booth last year and saw a demo of their hand powered grinder. Andrea asked me to stop this year and ask them how their products worked with rice. I forgot to stop, but luckily she had some free time and was able to talk to them and get the information that she needed.
  • Sweet Springs Hammocks - This was my first year not stopping by the Sweet Springs Hammock booth. The first year at the fair we bought a hammock from them. The second year I stopped by to get some pointers on hanging it, since I had yet to do so. He made me promise to get it hung by the next fair so I could tell him how I liked it. Since I still haven't gotten around to hanging it, I decided not to stop, in case he remembered me :-)

  • A complete list of the exhibitors at this year's fair can be found on the Mother Earth News Fair website. There are far too many vendors and exhibitors for me to mention here, even if I could remember them all. While the list varies from year to year it is a good indication of the range of vendors that attend the fair.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment