A couple weeks back, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair, September 25 and 26 in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. From talking to GRIT readers to attending a workshop on small-scale home meat processing, this was an excellent opportunity that I’m thrilled to have seized.
My duties at the Fair were multifaceted, but initially I was to go and work a booth promoting GRIT’s partnership with the U.S. Belted Galloway Society involving a giveaway of a young, registered Belted Galloway heifer. The drawing is mid-March, by the way, so there’s still time to get in. All you need is access to a couple of acres, and you could have a gentle, hardy, beef cow that will do excellent on grass.
Turns out, this was the perfect venue for talking with people about which breed they’d pick for starting their own herd, and I hope this won’t be the only cow (or other livestock) sweepstakes we do at GRIT. We love putting useful stuff in the hands of our readers, and what has more utility and vast returns than loveable livestock for your farm?!
Photo: courtesy David King
Aside from working the booth, I got to get out and mingle with Fair-going folks, shoot some video and ask some questions. I met a young woman who’d won tickets to the Fair via a GRIT facebook giveaway. I talked to Twenty Twenty (his real name, reflecting a desire to perceive things in the most accurate way), who gives nature walks and workshops on how to forage for food in the wild. His wife, Carol Wingert, hopes to contribute photography for upcoming issues of the magazine.
Craig Russell, president of the Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities, was in a booth right across from us.
I got to meet and talk with Paul Gardener, a GRIT blogger and writer/contributor with whom I share a passion for hunting and rural life.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Nutting, an owner of Ogden Publications who expressed his affection for GRIT and the direction we’re headed. We also talked about a topic we’re mutually passionate about; baseball. (The Nutting family owns the Pittsburgh Pirates, and one of my best friends, a cousin, plays for them.) But hearing Mr. Nutting talk about how he reads every issue of GRIT made me downright giddy.
The one workshop/presentation I actually got to attend, the meat processing one I mentioned earlier, culminated with the actual skinning and evisceration of a rabbit. I learned the setup and tools I need for doing my own hogs one day (more willing friends, among them). I’ve long been enamored with the thought of having the ability to process my own meat, and this allowed me to talk to a guy who does just that, and see his operation in photos. Since that presentation, I’ve come to understand this is a trade I can learn, it’s realistic and affordable on all levels. I’ve even inquired into the prospects of working one day per week as a sort of apprenticeship with a local butcher.
So multiple things I saw that weekend inspired me.
But nothing touched talking to GRIT readers. In this business, you don’t get that interface often. Once in a great while – I think it’s happened twice in the 2-plus years I’ve worked at GRIT – you randomly meet someone who reads. For the most part, it’s easy to become focused on the routine of it all: writing and editing, tracking down art, more editing, final production, putting the magazine on our website, rinse and repeat. We love it because we love the lifestyle and the content, but we seldom get to share it in person with the readers we try our darndest to serve.
Hank and I even had a little fun thinking about what a GRIT Fair might be like. Here’s Hank’s take: “At the GRIT fair, I suspect we’d see a little more Red Man and a little less American Spirit – more boots instead of Birkenstocks. But in both cases it’d be a celebratory gathering of thoughtful, committed and smart people who are passionate about getting the most they can from this life without ruining the planet for their children.”
Photo: courtesy Hank Will
Ahhh, maybe one day. In the meantime, if you’re attending a Mother Earth News Fair, catch one of us GRIT editors on Facebook, Twitter, or via email (first initial, last name @grit.com, so for Caleb Regan it’s email@example.com) before the fair, and make an attempt to shake hands. It really will make our day – more like make our event.