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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.