Wally gets back to nature at Mother Earth News Fair

News-DemocratOctober 17, 2013 

I really thought I would run into some old hippies last weekend in Lawrence, Kan., at the Mother Earth News Fair.

But what I found were just a lot of people interested in finding something a little different than the regular rat race.

The fair was a two-day extravaganza with more than 150 workshops, an eco-friendly marketplace, speakers and off-stage demonstrations. That must have been the mules and the goats in the petting zoo.

The magazine, Mother Earth News, has held these fairs for a number of years but usually on the East Coast or the West Coast. This was the first in the Midwest.

It was in a public park next to downtown Lawrence, which is about a five-hour drive from here.

It was all about getting back to nature, growing at least some of your own food and using as few natural resources as possible.

Ironically, sometimes it was a little hard to focus when smelly, noisy traffic roared by on streets a few feet away, drowning out the speakers.

But there were a lot of people talking about alternative things, like raising chickens, goats, ducks, turkeys and all sorts of food.

Most of the speakers had published books so there was a big bookstore with book signings.

I missed the chicken preparation demonstration, which dealt with handling, bleeding, scalding, plucking and eviscerating.

Afterward they raffled off the chickens for charity and each drew more than $25.

The star of the event was Ed Begley Jr., an actor and an expert on sustainable living. He also is a soda entrepreneur. He was selling his soda, Begley's & Bill's, from a booth in the middle of the park, passing out samples, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.

I didn't find the all-natural soda to be particularly different from any other soda I have had. But I'm a cynic.

There were several stages scattered throughout the park, some dedicated to energy, some to foods and one that had a day's worth of beekeeping seminars.

There were pep talks, including one from an expert who urged everyone to grow something, even if it was just some sprouts in a jar.

He even had research he had done on growing with fluorescent lights if you have a basement apartment with no windows.

There were a lot of similarly dedicated people spreading their messages. One thing that was consistent was the need to keep searching until you find what is right for you.

It was interesting. And luckily while I was looking around downtown I found just what was right for me.

It was a chocolate chip cookie store.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com

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