Crestone Energy Fair mixes expertise and energy

Photos by Patrick Shea Seeking donations and providing entertainment, models strutted in front of the Elephant Cloud Market during the Crestone Freebox Fashion Show at the Crestone Energy Fair on Aug. 28. Instructors and students from Enshin-Karate taught techniques at the Wellness Village in Creekside Park during the Crestone Energy Fair on Aug. 28.

CRESTONE — The 33rd Annual Crestone Energy Fair spread across town Aug. 27-28 with multiple performers, presentations, and demonstrations for home-building and personal energy management. From solar power to food vendors, energy and education fed minds and bodies all weekend.

Three stages scattered blocks apart showcased music and presentations. The Regenerative Stage in the heart of town park featured musical acts, the Shumei Hikari Taiko drummers, panels on wellness, natural building, local food, and water and sanitation. The Cloud Stage outside the Elephant Cloud Market featured music and the Freebox Fashion Show.

Ringing the Wellness Village at Creekside Park, vendors performed massage and other healing while demonstrators explained Earthship building, led yoga sessions, taught karate, and performed belly dances. A couple dozen instructors and students from Enshin-Karate paired up adults and children to learn controlled movements and techniques.

Home tours in Crestone and Baca Grande gave attendees a glimpse of buildings under construction and finished homes built with alternative forms of energy and construction. Throughout the Energy Fair, demonstrators showed how to pound tires, create a miniature Earthship, and compare the insulation and construction properties of Earthships, AirCrete, PaperCrete, HempCrete, and straw bales.

New at the Energy Fair this year, the Rock n Block Yard showcased Compressed Earth Blocks under development in Moffat. When Ken Skoglund kicked off production at the Rock n Block Yard, he determined the right screen size and Portland cement mix. Each block is 3.5 X 10 X 14 inches, stacked using standard masonry techniques. The Rock n Block Yard equipment mechanically presses the earthen blend at approximately 2,000 Pounds per Square Inch, more than twice the PSI of adobe brick construction.

With a crew inspecting each block and managing the assembly line, the compression machines crank out about seven blocks per minute (roughly 420 per hour). Paddles churn in the mixer. Made from dry inorganic subsoil, clay, sand, and aggregates, most of the material comes from the Skoglund Pit north of Crestone. The blocks are fireproof and also protect against wind, insects, rodents, and mold. Energy-efficient with a high thermal mass, they also block sound and more.

Giving money or in-kind trade, sponsors support free admission to the annual Energy Fair. One of eight sponsors at the Cultivator Level this year, Skoglund Excavating donated $250, and Skoglund ran the Rock n Block Yard booth with Johnny Kunkler. At the Harvester Level, Valley Roots Food Hub, the Crestone Eagle, the Saguache County Tourism Council, Beyond Organica, Crestone Mercantile, KTAOS radio, T-Road Brewing Company, and Spore donated $500.

Sponsors at the Community Builder level gave $1,000 apiece — CoyleSolar, Elephant Cloud Market, Shakti Sharanam, Darlene Yarbrough Real Estate, Oppenheimer Ranch Project, San Luis Valley Seed Exchange, RainbowLighning, and TerraMedia. The Town of Crestone pitched in $2,500. Valued at $5,000, Visionary Sponsors this year included Saguache County, Mountainside Realty, ScSeed, and The Off Grid Guru.

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