Energy Park is an educational playground of innovative and equitable solutions to our most pressing environmental challenges. We provide opportunities for networking and learning from knowledgeable individuals, non-profit groups, and commercial organizations, who offer expertise and information in the fields of renewable energy, climate change solutions, and sustainable agriculture. We strongly believe that every little-to-large step we make takes us closer to a better, brighter future. Let us educate and entice you!
Energy Park is one of a handful of areas at the Oregon Country Fair dedicated to educating the Fair-going public. Energy Park is a non-commercial area where groups come to teach, demonstrate and connect. While some of these are non-profit organizations or are businesses, others are really just individuals – each focusing on different aspects of how we can find and live a sustainable lifestyle, and highlighting various ways that we can make a difference. Some of the approaches we showcase include: Using the sun to warm our water, heat our homes, cook our food and to generate our electricity; a range of agricultural practices, including organic farming and permaculture; recycling and reusing; and alternative forms of transportation – for example, we have often displayed electric vehicles and new types and uses of bicycles.
All of this educational information is purely our gift to the fair from: the groups that make up Energy Park, the wide variety of entertainers that volunteer to perform or give talks on our EP Kesey Stage, and the staff that works behind the scenes – whether at the stage, the showers or charging cell phones, or giving out information through our EP Information Booth. Our community of Energy Park is enhanced by our neighbors the Blintz Booth and The Springfield Creamery; and the Park is often brightened up by the colorful presence of Risk of Change, another close neighbor.
Energy Park began nigh on forty years ago born out of Community Village. The ‘Alternative Technology Area’ of Community Village, while considered important, was just taking up too much space in Community Village’s dedicated area, so a new space for Energy Park was opened up right off East 13th Avenue, behind the Blintz Booth and the Springfield Creamery. We have been there ever since.
It all started with a few displays. Sue Jakabosky – who has been a part of Energy Park since 1981 – came in as a part of the Roseburg Solar Energy Resources Group. They lugged this big solar water-heating demo up from Roseburg every year and set it up in Energy Park. Particularly memorable was lugging that thing in on the back of a truck during the Mud Year in 1983.
The displays of those early Energy Parks were cutting edge in the fields of solar energy – both for water heating and electricity – and for innovative bicycle design. Tom Scott shared his solar water heating expertise to help get a handmade solar water heating system working for a shower here, and he stayed with Energy Park ever after providing glorious showers in the woods to both fairgoers and fair family alike. Tom passed in 2018, but he will forever be remembered as we gather in the woods of Energy Park each year.
As the years went by our solar water heating system evolved, as did so many other aspects of Energy Park. We have always tried to stay on the cutting edge of what we could do to help our world become healthier and more sustainable. The food we eat, such a basic and important part of how we live, is too often being brought to us by systems, and in ways, that poison us and our planet. The groups in EP’s Ag Alley show alternatives to these poisonous ways. Organic agriculture – Yes, and also permaculture as well as other ways to live organically.
Energy Park’s scope is to represent a rich variety of groups that can show us new, often innovative, sustainable ways to live on our planet. Bring, a non-profit that started in the Eugene area providing recycling services, has contributed to the Oregon Country Fair in many ways throughout the years. And through much of that time they have had a booth in Energy Park. Thank you for the diaper service, Bring!
As the years have gone by, we have also found various ways to represent transportation alternatives. Early Energy Parks saw children test-driving recumbent bicycles by riding around the circle of booths that comprise Energy Park. We have used bicycles to make smoothies, charge cell phones, occasionally power our stage, and some from our community bicycle to and from the fair. In addition, we have a history of showing innovators in the field of electric vehicles. Many alternative types of vehicles, including electric, were displayed out in front in our Wheels of Revolution area for over ten years, until just a few years ago. But not just out in front of Energy Park – out in front of the fair, the main entrance. In that same area we have also set up solar panels and hosted our cell phone charging station, which has been another popular service provided by Energy Park.
Presently, we are pulling all of Energy Park back into our usual, original space off of East 13th. We are bringing cell phone charging back to the Park and letting go of the Wheels of Revolution, believing we have got them spinning now. And we will continue to provide solar heated showers during the fair and a rocking, yet edifying, stage.
We look forward to seeing you in Energy Park at the Oregon Country Fair in 2022.