Weather dampens EcoFest turnout, but not spirit

By Vicki Hyatt | May 06, 2013
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Melanie Batchelor of MedWest gives a talk about healthy foods — and strawberry snacks — at WNC EcoFest Saturday.

The cold, damp weather Saturday undoubtedly deterred many from attending the first EcoFest event in Haywood, but the estimated 500 who showed up were well rewarded with discount coupons, freebies and plenty of information.

Vendors at the event were satisfied, as well.

“I felt the people who came by were very interested and were really listened,” said Jennifer Best, an agent with Farm Bureau Insurance.

Mast General Store provided 20 percent discount coupons for EcoFest attendees, several vendors offered free estimates on potential savings from energy conservation and there was even a chance to win a chicken coop, with proceeds going to charity.

Stephen King, Haywood County Solid Waste director, said people liked the recycling bins given out and enjoyed learning the ins and outs of recycling.

“Everyone I talked to enjoyed it,” he said. “We’re hoping to participate it next year.”

Kaleb Rathbone, who gave a talk on the Mountain Research Station biofuels grant, said while the crowd was limited, those who showed up had read about the project and really wanted to learn more.

CeCe Hipps, director of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, which organized the WNC EcoFest, said the event was well-organized and those attending found it extremely interesting.

“The classes were so good. Every time I looked, there were people at those demonstrations,” she said. “Unfortunately, Mother Nature kept people away, but it was that way with everyone in the region that had weekend events.”

Hipps estimated the crowd at about 500.