Friday, April 15, 2011

EcoFair Endangered

Right: Flyer from the 2008 EcoFair A few years ago (2007 I believe) I got involved in a new Red River Sierra Club project to hold a sustainable living festival in Wichita Falls. We held the first EcoFair at Berends Landing. We had a good event the first year, with plenty of opportunity for growth. We moved the event to River Bend the second year and had some problems with the all-volunteer committee concept. After the rocky road the second year, the volunteer committee reached an agreement to turn the event over to River Bend. The thinking was the EcoFair fit the River Bend mission and was an event that could/should provide the opportunity to raise significant money to support that organization. In addition, a permanent year around staff could provide continuity which would enable better event planning, which would facilitate growth. Relying strictly on an ad hoc committee of community volunteers was just not sustainable. Since that time, the EcoFair has not fulfilled its promise. There have been relatively few businesses in the area to participate as vendors, although there are getting to be more all the time. In addition, there has been a lot of turnover and uncertainty at River Bend. Fortunately, the new Executive Director seems to be getting things under control at River Bend and several good things have been happening. Unfortunately, River Bend has apparently decided to deep six the EcoFair. I am not privy to the reasons for this--the organization may have perfectly good reasons for doing so. However, this is a loss to the community. The local Sierra Group is looking at once again taking over the EcoFair. It is unfortunate that this will once again require starting with no budget as we did the first year. When the club gave River Bend the EcoFair, it also passed on the money earned in the first two years. It wasn't a huge amount, but it was enough to allow more flexibility. I hate to see Wichita Falls lose this event. At the same time, I don't know that I have the energy and drive to take a leadership role in trying to salvage the event in 2011. If you want to take part in a discussion on this, contact the Red River Sierra Group at The organization is trying to put together a meeting next week.

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