Red dirt, green ideas at Iron Range Earth Fest

16-iref-logo-colorGiven the constant controversy about environmental issues that permeates Iron Range political thought, one might find it strange that the Iron Range Earth Fest is preparing its 8th annual offering this Saturday, April 23.

But in truth the Iron Range is a perfect place to talk about the concept of sustainability. Without getting into the ongoing mining debate, local culture is built around weathering a tough climate and even tougher economy.

Locally sourced food? There are pigs and cows on main street in pictures of Range towns 100 years ago. Want local produce? Careful not to say that too loudly or you’ll have 50 zucchini on your porch one morning. Local energy production? Wind, solar, geothermal? Hey, folks here have long known that if you dig deep enough it starts to get warmer.

Iron Range Earth Fest 2016 runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday in Mountain Iron. Venues include the Mt. Iron Community Center and the neighboring Messiah Lutheran Church and Merritt Elementary School, all located along Highway 169. Admission is $5 for adults, free to kids 18 and younger.

Sponsored by the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability, the Iron Range Earth Fest commemorates Earth Week with exhibits, speakers, music and food.

According to organizers, Earth Fest 2016 will feature:

  • “Walking the Talk: Stories from our Neighbors” Earth Fest ‘16 Welcome Event on Friday, April 22 at Messiah Lutheran Church sponsored by Congregations Caring for the Earth (6:30 p.m. refreshments & conversation, 7 p.m. panel discussion)
  • 80 local exhibitors and vendors
  • Presentations on local food, local energy, local ecology and local entrepreneurship
  • Local food from Natural Harvest Food Co-op and the Shop Coffeehouse
  • Music from the Christopher David Hanson Band and Sharon Rowbottom & Dan Boyer
  • 3rd Annual Community Sustainability Initiative, CSI Silent Auction, and 2016 Green Innovator’s Expo
  • Kids activities hosted by Laurentian Environmental Center, Vermillion Community College, Mesabi YMCA & more!

The Iron Range Earth Fest 2016 will be a “Toward Zero Waste” event, meaning that the planning team is working with vendors and exhibitors to divert at least 75 percent of all waste away from the landfill through waste reduction, recycling and composting.

On the subject of recycling, Earth Fest 2016 will also include a Mountain Iron-Buhl Nordic Ski Team glossy paper recycling fundraiser, a cell phone and ink cartridge drop-off recycling, and information on local e-Waste recycling options.

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