2008 Bluemont Fair to Offer New "Green" Features

August 11, 2008

From Jen Stone

The 39th Bluemont Fair will offer several new eco-friendly features.

The inspiration behind the effort comes from Jen Stone, the Children’s Fair Chair.

“It started when I got so upset at all the lead recalls from China,” Stone says.  As Children’s Fair Chair, she would be giving away prizes to thousands of children.  Yet, she knew she wouldn’t feel comfortable using products from companies that might not observe all health and safety rules. 

Stone started brainstorming with a group of women she dubbed “The Green Team” on ways to make the Fair more environmentally oriented.  The group of women, which consists of a farmer, a preschool teacher, a potter, a yoga instructor, a graphic designer, and 8 full-time mothers began coming up with ideas.

The hardest problem was to figure out what prizes could be made or bought green in bulk --  4,000 prizes is a lot of pieces.  Along with input from other Fair chairs and neighbors they decided on recycled pencils, traditional string games, homemade book marks with seeds, stickers, and used books.  

Going to the Internet, the team found a company in Ohio that makes pencils out of blue jeans, old currency, and newspaper.  A local llama farmer provided with dyed llama and sheep spun wool for the string games.  They found seeds from a Virginia farm and the paper came from their own recycling bins.  By placing boxes in local community centers, the team has gathered over 700 donated books.  Finding out that stickers made from recycled paper have been discontinued due to lack of demand, they settled on stickers with earth-friendly messages instead.

All that was left was the balloons.  Stone knew that a certain kind of latex is biodegradable, breaking down at the same rate as an oak tree leaf.  Some concerted Internet surfing identified a wholesaler in Boston who makes these.  The Children’s Fair will attach sticks, instead of the usual plastic weights, to keep the balloons from floating up aimlessly into the sky.

After all, this is a country fair,” Stone says.

There will be recycling bins next to the trash cans for water bottles and soda cans.  The Bluemont Fair posters are printed on recycled card stock.

Stone hopes to see the “green” elements grow even more in next year’s Bluemont Fair.