Energy Fair Returns to Custer

SolarExhibitorBY Michael Casper

Dates and hours of the Energy Fair

Friday, June 17
9 am – 10 pm
Saturday, June 18
9 am – 10 pm
Sunday, June 19
9 am – 4 pm

Midwest Renewable Energy Association
7558 Deer Road
Custer, WI 54423


Each year, The Energy Fair brings over 15,000 attendees together to learn about clean energy and sustainability, connect with others, and take action towards a more sustainable future.

Located in Custer, Wisconsin, seven miles east of Stevens Point, nestled in the heart of central Wisconsin, surrounded by rolling hills, lakes, trout streams, and beautiful woodlands. Custer has been the home of The Energy Fair since 2002.

The Fair features over 250 workshops and over 200 exhibitors, with live music, inspiring keynotes, and activities for the whole family. Hosted by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Central Wisconsin, The Energy Fair is the longest-running event of its kind in the nation.

Allison Lindquist is the events coordinator of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

“As always we have a great line up of keynote speakers,” Lindquist said “including Nomi Prins a political-financial expert, journalist and author. Prins is widely sought-after for her unique perspective on politics, finance, and the economy. She’ll be speaking on how regulations can help push policies forward to benefit the public, and speaking to energy and campaign finance and energy policies specifically.”

John Farrell is also scheduled as a keynote speaker. Farrell is Director of Democratic Energy at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“In recent years there has been a lot of excitement over renewable energy,” Lindquist said “with the cost of solar coming down, and battery technology improving. John will talk on distributing energy on a local level and becoming more energy-independent.”

And Sandrine Mubenga, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of SMIN Power Group which has offices in the DRC and in the USA and specializes in providing affordable electricity to communities using renewable energies (particularly solar including hydroelectricity, fuel cell, biomass, wind, etc). Currently, Sandrine is the Electrical Engineering Manager at the University of Toledo.
“Sandrine recently traveled abroad,” Lindquist said “having taught those who did not have access to harnessing solar energy, the means to do so.”

Just some of the workshops available include Advanced Fuel Vehicles Using Electric and Natural Gas with Chris Schneider of Honda Motorwerks where you’ll learn how electric and natural gas vehicles can merge alternatives into the most advanced fuel vehicles: Hydrogen powered, Fuel Cell Vehicles.

Get an introduction into cordwood construction with Richard and Becky Flatau who built their mortgage-free cordwood home thirty-seven years ago in northern Wisconsin. Since then, as directors of Cordwood Construction Resources, LLC, they have written books, taught workshops and pioneered the use of best practices with cordwood construction, a home building technique that uses natural materials and encourages planet-friendly choices. Outstanding visual examples of best practice homes/cottages/cabins will reveal the latest successful builds.

And there are workshops for all ages. David Stokes, through the use of short songs, riddles, sign-language, live animals, biofacts (animal artifacts), puppets, and humor, will examine our Animal Adaptations. David is a Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education Teacher of the Year and an ‘Aldo Leopold’ award winner. The Northshore United Educators (WEAC) honored David in March 2002 for educational excellence. He received the Master Front-line Interpreter award from the National Association for Interpretation in November 2001. He sings and engages audiences of all ages in nature study. Using live creatures and animal artifacts, songs, and short stories, David gets down with his audiences, and makes learning fun.

“In all we have around 280 workshops planned,” Lindquist said. “New this year are the vehicles providing clean transportation, examples of the improvements being made and the recent technology advances, like electric bikes! Plus there will be a couple Teslas on the grounds.”

Christina Nichols, Senior Executive Technical Advisor for the SunShot Initiative, will speak about Solar Ready Vets.

“The Solar Ready Vets program connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry,” Lindquist said “preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, inspectors, sales reps, and other solar-related occupations. Solar Ready Vets is enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation.”

There will be plenty to see, do and learn at this year’s fair.

“A couple years ago we built a wood-fired pizza oven during the fair,” Lindquist said “we’ll be talking about the process of how-to build one of your own, and we’ll also be baking sour dough pizzas in the one we built. Plus, Saturday night there will be a band playing. They’re called Phox, and are an up-and-coming group out of Baraboo.”

There is a pre-fair guide available online and in print. See the guide for a sneak preview of all workshops, exhibitors, activities, and more featuring a user-friendly new format highlighting features within interest categories, such as sustainable living, solar photovoltaics, and farm & garden.

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