LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Mother Earth News Fair expected to draw 10,000 to downtown Lawrence


Among the many, many . . . many things my wife is an expert on, Ed Begley Jr. is one.

If you are of a certain age, perhaps you remember him as one of the stars of the 1980s TV series "St. Elsewhere." If you are a fan of cheesy television, you may remember him as a recurring character on "Seventh Heaven." Or, if you are an aficionado of oddball reality shows (ding, ding, ding), he has his own program — "Living with Ed" — in which he shows off his environmental practices, such as using an electricity-producing bike to power his toaster.

Simply put, Ed Begley Jr. is why my house's thermostat is set at a "tropical" 87 degrees during the summer and a "refreshing" 57 degrees during the winter. More bluntly put, I cuss Ed Begley Jr. every time I stop at one of the many Gatorade stations I've set up in my house during the summer, and every time I traipse around the house in my alpaca robe in the winter.

Well, no one in the hotel, restaurant or hospitality industry in Lawrence is likely to cuss Begley this month. The actor/environmentalist is coming to Lawrence later this month as part of an event that is expected to bring 10,000 people to downtown.

The national publication Mother Earth News, based in Topeka, is hosting a Mother Earth News Fair on Oct. 12-13 in Watson Park. A representative of the sustainable living fair told me that the event is expected to draw 10,000 people,, based on ticket sales so far, and many of them will come from outside the area.

"We hosted a fair earlier this year just outside of Pittsburgh, and there was a guy there from Syracuse," said Brandy Ernzen, brand manager for Mother Earth News' parent company. "As he was leaving, he said, 'See you in Lawrence.'"

The event is touted as a place where you can learn everything from how to raise backyard chickens to how to use green building materials for your next remodeling project.

In addition to Begley, the event is set to feature several other nationally known speakers on the environment. They include Joel Salatin, an organic farmer and author who was profiled in the documentary Food Inc.; Dr Temple Grandin, an animal welfare expert; Eliot Coleman, organic gardner and author; and Woody Tasch, the founder and director of the Slow Money movement that seeks to fund local agricultural ventures.

The event is expected to put up about a dozen tents in Watson Park — the train park near Sixth and Kentucky — and feature about 150 workshops and about 200 vendors. Tickets sold at the event will cost $25 for a day or $35 for the weekend.

Plans call for Seventh Street between Kentucky and Tennessee streets to be closed for the weekend. The 600 block of Tennessee Street also is expected to be closed for a few hours on Oct. 13, a Sunday, to accommodate vendors who will be leaving the grounds.

Mother Earth News — which has about 530,000 paid subscribers — has been hosting the sustainable living fairs for about four years on the east and west coasts. But this is the first time the event has come to Lawrence, and it is the only one the magazine is hosting in the Midwest. Leaders with the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau are hoping the event can become a mainstay in the Lawrence convention scene. They also are intrigued by how the event is using Watson Park.

"They really are kind of turning Watson Park into a convention area," said Christine Metz Howard, communications manager for the CVB. "Our hope is that it will work well and create other possibilities in the future."

Hopefully one of those future events will be "Sensible Management of your Home's Thermostat." Either that, or some sort of event that allows me to get a bulk discount on Gatorade.


Russell Fryberger 2 years ago

Ah, I dub thy convention "BATHROOM IN THE PARK".

chicago95 2 years ago

This may turn out to be a smart use of the new library parking garage. If it helps draw regional events and participants downtown, it may help defray some of our construction costs (through increased retail activity.)

Of course, the garage won't hold 10,000. But 300 cars at three to a car for a few hours apiece over the length of the event might just work. The weather should be good. Lawrencians might want to park elsewhere to leave room for visitors.

One more thought.... in coming years, consider marketing train travel to Lawrence for this event. The Mother Earch crowd might be receptive.

smileydog 2 years ago

What does a Sustainability Consultant do anyway? I might be perfect for that job. Okay, time for my morning nap.

theoscar 2 years ago

OMGosh, Close the Street? Wait, has this been approved? What if a "major retailer, manufacturer or prized KU faculty recruit" doesn't like Mother Earth News?

Keith 2 years ago

At least they're not blocking Mass. St. I don't think I could bear it if Dolph were inconvenienced by that again.

patkindle 2 years ago

this probably will not attract many locals, after all it isn't free, that's what works in lawrence, no one pays for anything mother earth didn't do its home work

MarcoPogo 2 years ago

spit take There went that drink of water.

MarcoPogo 2 years ago

I keep forgetting that all of the businesses where I shop around town are actually just GIVING the stuff to me without any payment. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go grab my free lunch at Free State...

joes_donuts 2 years ago

Lawrence needs a convention center near downtown to host these types of events.

kernal 2 years ago

I just checked their web site. Turns out we could have pre-ordered tickets at a cheaper price, but that deadline was 09/28/13. There is a schedule on the site that you can download and it appears there will also be a program guide, but it's not up yet.

I don't understand why LJWorld is just now telling people about this. It's not like the city and Mother Earth News just set this up yesterday.

Noweigh 2 years ago

kernal...first I've heard of this as well, but I don't blame the LJW. It's up to Mother Earth News to promote their own events. Thanks to LJW for letting the general public know. hope its well attended.

kernal 2 years ago

I called Mother Earth and spoke with a live person. They acted surprised that this was just in our local paper for the first time today and said they had no idea why news of this event was just published today. How else would would any group promote an event other than notify the local media? Dropping flyers from airplanes was banned long long ago. And, I'm not "blaming" anyone; I think this is a valid question.

More than one person at the city knew about this as well as the Chamber of Commerce, not to mention Downtown Lawrence members.

chicago95 2 years ago

LCVB and the Chamber dropped the ball on this one. Though they obviously and appropriately are focused on external (to Lawrence) rather than internal communications, I hope that they will be reminded that we are all partners in making this stuff work.

Noweigh 2 years ago

what about letting the public know via paid advertising like all other organzations? newspaper, radio, tv, direct mail, social media, etc. just sayin'

patkindle 2 years ago

I don't think this was the first note about the mother earth get together in the ljw I read it some where, about had to be here

kernal 2 years ago

I found news about it in the Topeka paper dated 9/15/13, Fox News (WDAF, Channel 4) and Utne Reader before 9/28. Who knows.....

patkindle 2 years ago

250 grand should have given mother earth some ready cash to pay for advertising the event

Eugehne Normandin 2 years ago

charging 25 bucks for an event at a city park is not very sustainable to me. how about eco friendly transportation or all the Jo Co pseudo tree huggers coming in their SUV"s. The fair sounds great but why not use the expo center in Topeka if 10000 people are expected?

William McCauley 2 years ago

Let's see here... 150 bucks to reserve a park in the only blue dot in the sea of red, and how much you think the expo center runs per day rental? Hmmmm, you are right I can't see why they would use that park.

Budgets_Smudgets 2 years ago

10,000 ha ha ha ha.

If any body wants to wager on attendance being anything over 5,000, I'll take some of the action.

waitjustaminute 2 years ago

Only Ed Begley? Really? I mean REALLY? What about Springfield's own Sheryl Crow - she's in for just a sheet or two of TP. How about Leavenworth's own Missy Etheridge, rebel that she is. Hell, the organizers surely (don't call me Shirley) could have dug up a couple of regional free spirits to put a local spin on this night with the crickets (don't call me Buddy, Holly.) My only real serious question is, where will the free showers be located now that the pool is drained and closed for the season?

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