Hi, Solar Enthusiast!
The 8th annual Solar Fiesta, New Mexico's premier solar energy and sustainable living fair, was a success! We had more exhibits than ever and a solid attendance in spite of the location change. Gate counts and workshop attendance continue to show that this event inspires and educates the green-minded public.
Our new location, Highland High School, was a "Brighter SOLution" and a delight. Workshop capacities, indoor and outdoor exhibit areas and the pleasant ambiance of grassy spaces in front of the school supported a vigorous, festive atmosphere. We wholeheartedly thank Principal Nikki Dennis, Assistant Principal Frank Maestas, Activities Director Pat Arguelles and the custodial staff for their support!
Vendor presence at the Solar Fiesta was the most ever with 80+ exhibits! Displays covered many facets of sustainability: solar electric and thermal products and services; energy conservation practices and devices; passive solar design and alternative, earth-friendly building materials; water conservation; solar education; financial resources; politics; and alternative transportation fuels, such as electricity, biodiesel, vegetable oil and hydrogen, and gas-powered bicycles.
Our robust workshops incorporated many of the same topics and were well-attended. Forty-one classes attracted an attendance of well over 1200, averaging 31 folk per class. Our free pre-Fiesta-opening introductory solar workshops were highly successful with 150 and 80 attending Saturday and Sunday mornings, respectively, the highest-attended classes in the last three years. Workshop descriptions are linked from the main Solar Fiesta 2007 page.
This year's ticket system gave us an accurate count of attendees. Gate entry was 2168, almost the same as our estimated 2006 gate entry. This count does not include exhibitors, speakers and volunteers - roughly 300 - who were involved in the Solar Fiesta itself. We hoped for an increase in attendance, but understand that moving the Fiesta and scheduling during the biggest weekend of the State Fair were challenges.
The official kick-off to the Solar Fiesta was the "Sunhat Solar Tea" at Tiguex Park on Friday morning, Sept 14. Members of the renewable energy community joined to celebrate the contributions and steadfast commitment of New Mexico solar pioneer Steve Baer of Zomeworks in Albuquerque. He was honored with the Second Annual Equinox Award. The Equinox Award honors significant individual contributions toward a sustainable economy. It was inaugurated last year to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the world’s first commercial solar building, built at 213 Truman St. N.E. in Albuquerque by Frank Bridgers and Don Paxton in 1956. New Mexico State Senator Dede Feldman, sponsor of the State of New Mexico’s solar tax-credit incentives, hosted the Sunhat Solar Tea and City Councilor Isaac Benton was Master of Ceremonies. English shortbread and tea was made in solar ovens and served to attendees by fifth graders from St. Charles Borromeo School, blending basic solar technology with the traditional elegance of an English tea.
Once again, PNM and the State's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department were major sponsors of the event. New Belgium Brewing Company, Cedar Mountain Solar, City of Albuquerque, Conergy, and the American Solar Energy Society/Solar Today Magazine were also major sponsors.
I cannot thank enough all the volunteers for the fiesta who made it the awesome event it was! I particularly thank David Patterson, Jim Barrera, Jean Arya, Janet Bridgers, Bob Andruszkiewicz, Deena Klein and Ed Heller for their months-long dedication and Barb Menicucci for her steady council. They are an enthusiastic, dedicated, inspirational group of people who took on their projects with gusto, creativity and expertise! It has been my blessing to serve with them. With the bulk of the Solar Fiesta Committee returning for the 2008 event, it should be even more fun!
Many thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, exhibitors, speakers, volunteers, our office staff, the Board of Directors and members of NMSEA for making this event possible and successful.
Word of mouth is still the #1 way people find out about the Solar Fiesta. Please help us to grow the event by participating next year and spreading the word to others!
2006-2008 Solar Fiesta Manager