The state fair goes green

Rickety carnival rides. Animal and agricultural exhibits. And fried… well, just about anything. State fair season is coming up, and future farmers, midway operators, and bands past their prime are ready to roll. At a few fairs around the country, you can add renewable energy vendors, green builders, and organic foodies to the mix: the greening of the state fair is slowly but surely underway.

Two years ago, MSNBC took note of some of these efforts… and implied that they were relatively lame. One vendor at the Illinois State Fair, for instance,was up for green recognition simply because they’d switched from Styrofoam to paper. They had a point… can you call the placement of a few recycling bins “greening?”

Still, a few fairs are adding some substantive green elements to the mix. And that’s a good thing… it’s hard to think of another institution that captures such a cross-section of the American public.

Green exhibits at state fairs

  • The Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair: Minnesota’s green exhibit may be the granddaddy of them all… this year’s edition will be the fifth. Elements of the exhibit include renewable energy demonstrations, the Green Street model green community, and displays of biodegradable plastics and foam research from the University of Minnesota. They also promote biking to the fair, and provide route and parking maps.
  • Green NC at the North Carolina State Fair: From water saving to biodiesel to local food, Green NC will feature a wide range of vendors and exhibitors. Greening the fair itself is also part of the equation…
  • Green Initiatives at State Fair of Virginia: The fair’s website touts ongoing efforts to keep the fair space as green space, and also previews an expanded farmer’s market and educational opportunities at this year’s event.

Know of efforts to educate fair-goers about sustainability in your state (or county)? Share them with us…


Image credit: justindoub at Flickr under a Creative Commons license