by Nicholas Chambers

For 24 years now, Crestone has hosted one of the nation’s longest running sustainability fairs.  This is not because of some marketing campaign run by a well-funded chamber of commerce, but because it is who we are: owner-builders of alternative, off-grid, and garden-growing homesteads.  We are also families, entrepreneurs, sitters, thinkers, feelers, skeptics, innovators, artists, and doers.  This rare combination of characteristics combined with a passion for celebrating and willingness to share with the larger world is what the Crestone Energy Fair is all about.  This year on Saturday August 24 and Sunday August 25 we raise the bar again as we explore possibilities at the 24th Annual Crestone Energy Fair, aka the San Luis Valley Energy Fair.

The Crestone Town Park will have a new layout to host vendors, food booths, demonstrations, music, kids’ activities and more.  Jonathan Dobson will be hosting the annual solar car race, Paul Shippee will do a segment on non-violent communication, and Will Baca will be presenting on Peak Water and effects of mono-crop agriculture, plus much, much more.  Other demonstrations include earth bag construction, straw bale building, rammed earth tires, papercrete, Green Star Blox, wind power, Tiny Houses, and solar.

On Saturday night, head out to the Yak’n Cracker for some live music of JoeAlan and Isa opening up for Futaba!  Elianna will be coordinating the music acts during the day at the park.

Sunday the 25th will showcase the numerous examples of sustainable and natural buildings located within Crestone and the neighboring Baca Grande development.  Guided tours will be offered throughout the area focusing on materials, energy systems, architecture and retreat centers.  This is likely the most comprehensive collection of working examples available within a single community.  If you have thoughts, plans or dreams of building, and living, more sustainably . . . don’t miss this event!  Please RSVP at the Welcome Tent for all tours.

This year one of our own has stepped up to direct the fair without being asked and without compensation because he believes in the Crestone culture.  Tire packer and papercrete builder Donavan Spitzman believes in providing examples for people to make choices about their own unique approach to the questions of the day: how much energy does my livelihood require, how long will my structure last, how am I alleviating or contributing to environmental issues.  According to Donovan, there is no one “right” method, technology, or approach.  What’s really important is that there is action on a personal level.  Donovan’s desire is that the energy fair can be a way to inspire and provide resources for people towards their own unique action.  He has got some great, fresh new energy he is bringing to the fair this year—you don’t want to miss it!

The Crestone Energy Group (CEG), which is a local consortia of entrepreneurs and visionaries, will be hosting discussions of the recently completed Biomass Resource Inventory as well as results from a District Energy feasibility.  The Saguache County Sales Tax Grant program has provided funding for these efforts.  Also, concurrent with the re-opening of the gas pumps in town the CEG will be selling 100% biodiesel made from restaurant fryer oil that came from several valley restaurants including in part the Desert Sage, the Bliss Café, Farm to Table, Villa Grove Trade, My Sister’s Place in Hooper, the Oasis and 4th Street Diner in Saguache, Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista, the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte, and the Alamosa Wal-Mart, to name a few.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden will be sending down Owen Roberts who is an engineer and wind turbine siting expert.  He will be discussing the “state of the wind industry,” as well as helping us understand how we can site individual projects in the valley.  He will also lead a workshop on small wind turbines for homeowners.

The fair wants you to get involved!  You might have an interesting topic that you want to present, you might have invigorating questions you want to discuss, or you want to be immersed in the whole experience by helping facilitate the event.  To propose your idea, volunteer, look into sponsorship opportunities, or to secure a vendor booth please contact Donovan at 303-868-6352 or  You can also access vendor applications and find more information at  Join “Crestone Energy Fair 2013” on Facebook for up-to-the-minute information.