Thousands gather to learn about green innovations at annual fair

By Josh Qian, Daily Staff Reporter
Published June 8, 2012

Ann Arbor hopes to continue living up to its name.

On Friday night, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje hosted the 12th annual Mayor’s Green Fair celebrating the city’s leadership in and dedication to environmental activism.

Main Street was closed to motor vehicle traffic for the fair where thousands of participants could experience an array of environmentally friendly demonstrations, live music and interactive activities.

Hieftje said since starting the event in the spring of 2001 after his election, it has snowballed along with technology.

“The fair continues to grow every year,” Hieftje said. “During this time span, we’ve seen a lot of growth in technology. The hybrids and the electric cars have really come on.”

Hieftje said he is always thrilled with the home-grown products citizens display at the fair.

“It’s really gratifying to see what a green community we have and the way people in the city have embraced the Green Fair,” he said. “And the crowd and vendors get bigger each year."

Hieftje added that Ann Arbor's high number of college-educated citizens and environmental organizations help make Ann Arbor an eco-friendly city.

Approximately 50 not-for-profit environmental organizations were able to inform participants about their work in the Environmental Leaders area at the fair.

All organizations in the leaders area have received recognition from the Waste Knot Program — which is given to organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to waste reduction and environmental protection — from Washtenaw County.

The Clean Energy Coalition, a local not-for-profit organization that promotes technologies to create healthier communities, hosted a Clean Energy Expo at the fair.

Bonnie Schmick, communications manager for the CEC, said her organization hosted the expo to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote the accessibility of sustainability options.

The CEC exhibits included a collection of alternative fuel vehicles, solar energy installations and green building materials. Schmick said she was pleased with how many people were asking questions.

“Our team is very passionate, and being able to talk to people one-on-one is a educational opportunity for us,” Schmick said.

Gail Mann, an Ann Arbor tourist from Yorktown, Va., said she came to the fair in order to pursue her interest in environment and ecology.

“It has been really interesting to see what Ann Arbor offers in the area of environmental solutions,” Mann said. “The live owl demonstration at the fair and the large number of activities here really engaged me.”