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EarthFest 2015 at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds

Sunday was a very nice day, so we went to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds to take in EarthFest 2015 whose theme for this year was "celebrating the year of clean water." Opening ceremonies didn't start until 11am so we had time to walk around and visit the information booths of such socially responsible businesses and organizations as Berea Animal Rescue, Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, Holden Arboretum, Earthshare Ohio, National Parks Service, Adopt a Greyhound, LeedCo, Ursuline College, Sustainable Cleveland, Esperanza Threads, and the Nature Conservancy.

We also said hello to Mr. Dick Goddard who was there selling calendars signed by himself whose proceeds would go to the animal rights groups that he so cherishes.

During opening ceremonies we were treated to environmentally conscious songs, animal exhibitions, and short remarks by Mr. Scott Sanders, Executive Director of the Earth Day Coalition; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; Ms. Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability for Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish; Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Sunny Simon; Mr. Julius Chiaccia, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District; and Mr. Tim Fowler, President of the Cuyahoga County Fair Board.

Mr. Sanders noted that this was the 26th anniversary of Cleveland's Earth Day celebration and the 3rd year of having it here at the fairgrounds. He said that he liked the partnership with the City of Cleveland and credited the city for suggesting that each year the theme be different. This year, for instance, we celebrated clean water whereas in the past the theme has been zero waste and renewable energy.

Mayor Jackson praised the Earth Day Coalition for working so hard and existing for so long because "many don't complete things" but this group of dedicated individuals has "maintained things and moved ahead."

Ms. McGowan reminded us that the annual sustainability summit will take place in the fall and that there are many things that people can do in the name of clean water like cleaning up the grass cuttings after they mow their lawns so that the cuttings will not be washed into the storm drain during a heavy rain. She urged us all to drink tap water which is more environmentally sound than bottled water and much, much less expensive.

Mr. Budish said that climate change concerns us all and then talked about the things that the county is working in terms of environmental policy. He credited Councilwoman Simon for helping establish the county's Office of Sustainability which will help businesses and homes become more energy efficient.

Councilwoman Simon was rightfully proud of her role in creating the Office of Sustainability. She also urged that we all take it upon ourselves to behave in a more sustainable fashion. Among the things that she suggested was to bring canvas bags to the grocery store and avoid the use of plastic bags.

Mr. Chiaccia said that the sewer district employs 650 people who are very passionate about what they do and mentioned that 350 million gallons of waste water is treated each day and the technology is improving all of the time.

Mr. Fowler told us that things are now starting to be recycled at the Cuyahoga County Fair. In fact, last year 10% of waste was recycled and this year the percentage will go up to 30%. A long term project will be LED lighting at the fairgrounds. We can also look forward to more water efficient toilets and energy efficient hand dryers. We spoke to him later on and Mr. Fowler told us that he appreciated the way Ms. Margaret W. Wong has attended some of the events at the fairgrounds over the years. He said that she was a "good lady, good lady."

After the program we talked with Ms. Sarah Taylor of Windustrious Cleveland who immigrated to the United States from Great Britain in 1964 and founded WCPN in 1984. Joining us was Ms. Joanne Scudder who is in charge of sustainability at the fairgrounds which means that she manages the upkeep of the wind turbine. She offered to take Ms. Taylor and ourselves over to see it so we decided to take her up on it.

We couldn't enter the turbine due to regulations but we were able to stand outside of the door and look in. We learned that it has generated one million kilowatt hours of electricity since it was installed in 2012 and it provides a good amount of the energy used by the fairgrounds. We didn't know this before, but we learned that the turbine itself was 15 years old when it was purchased from West Germany and then shipped to California where it was refurbished and then sent to Cleveland. The initial tower was included in the deal but it was very small so a 60 foot extension had to be created.

For years we have been walking or driving past the turbine and wondering about it. What better day to take a closer look than Earth Day so we really appreciated Ms. Scudder taking the time to show it to us.


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