Largest energy fair in U.S. kicks off in Portage County - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Largest energy fair in U.S. kicks off in Portage County

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CUSTER, Wis. (WAOW) -- Green living is the theme this weekend in Portage County.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association kicked off its annual energy fair in Custer.

Organizers say about 5,000 people visited the fair's educational displays and workshops.

They say three words guide them in their 25th year: learning, connecting and acting.

"It's a perfect place for me," said Jeanne Edwards of New Glarus. "I learn something every time I come here."

"They can go home and they can kind of replicate what they've learned here in their own communities," said Doug Stingle, the MREA's development director.

More than 200 exhibits and workshops are set up to show people how they can use less energy in their day-to-day lives.

"I absolutely feel I'm someplace I belong because I'm sort of a tree-hugger type person but I'm also an engineer," Edwards said.

Dwayne Johnson of Ogema was on a field trip to the fair with his seventh-grade class.

"I wanted to learn more about the wind and solar things, like I always wondered about windmills," he said.

Organizers say the energy fair has come a long way since it was just a few volunteers and a tent.

"We're founded by folks that had kind of heeded the call of the very first Earth Day back 25 years ago. We've kind of seen it grow beyond environmental activism and those folks into more of a mainstream thing," Stingle said.

"I was one of the people who said, 'We'll do this for a year or two and then we'll be done,' but I was quite wrong about that," said Mark Klein, a co-founder of the fair.

Organizers hope everyone leaves the fair with at least one idea to bring clean energy into their own lives.

Edwards says she picked up several environmentally-friendly tips including switching lights to lower wattage bulbs.

Organizers expect nearly 18,000 people will visit the fair during it's three-day run. The fair wraps up Sunday afternoon.
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