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July 16, 2013

Sun Comes Out for SolarFest 2013

Last weekend, while many Vermonters were celebrating one of the summer's first dry spells (finally!), others were tucked away at Forget-Me-Not farm in Tinmouth attending the 19th Annual SolarFest, a lively mix of music, kids activities, educational workshops and solar exhibitors that attracted those on the grid, off the grid and everywhere in between.

SolarfestfieldSolarFest began 19 years ago as merely a dream — literally. Nance Dean, SolarFest’s founder, dreamt one night of close friends walking over a hill on her farm to a performance stage. Dean lived off the grid, so the stage was completely solar powered. She shared her dream with artsy pals and made it happen. Patty Kenyon, the current managing director of SolarFest, recalled this history with me before my exploration of SolarFest began.

According to Kenyon, Dean’s first SolarFest was primarily a music and arts festival powered by the sun. 

Indeed, at this year's Fest, bands such as Kina Zorel, Jesse Dee, Melodeego, the Skatalites, Max Creek, DJ Sinna-G and Sparkplug lit up the stage — an "outstanding lineup of entertainment," said SolarFest President Steve Goldsmith (pictured, below, with daughter Sarah Goldsmith.)

But today, while performances still entertain guests, solar education seems to trump the beats coming from the main stage. Although the performances brought quite a crowd this year, Goldsmith reports that the majority of the attendees — almost 60% — likely came to learn from exhibitors and workshops.


“Our 2012 survey indicated that just over half of the people filling out the survey said that education was the primary reason for attending the festival," Goldsmith explained. 

And there was plenty to see.

Click here to read more about SolarFest on the Vermont Tech Jam blog.

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