SolarFest at a New Venue: the Southern Vermont Arts Center
On Friday, and Saturday, July 15 and 16, the SolarFest you’ve know and loved for years moves to the Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) to rock Manchester and the surrounding area with top musical performers and thought leaders promoting artistic excellence, renewable energy and sustainable living. This two-day solar-powered festival will feature new, top-quality workshops, speakers, performers and partnerships at SVAC’s beautiful 120-acre campus, offering the easy access and convenience of Manchester.
“The response from the community, the media and past sponsors to moving SolarFest to this new venue has been incredible,” said Mike Bailey, Solarfest trustee. He expressed excitement about the unprecendented collaboration between the two organizations, and SVAC board president Bob McClafferty echoed his sentiments. “We see this as a positive move towards the future of the Arts Center,” he stated.
SolarFest began in 1995 as a family-friendly music and arts festival offering workshops on solar energy and sustainable living. Held for the last decade on Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, it quickly became the northeast’s premier energy and music festival, attracting hundreds of attendees and volunteers from the area and around the country. “If there is any place that can lay claim to having started this revolution 20 years ago, it was Vermont and SolarFest,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.
When the farm’s owners decided it was time to reclaim their fields, the SolarFest Board of Trustees established a transitional committee to explore the future of the festival, assess their goals and explore possible locations. “We decided that we didn’t want it to be just a music festival, or just a conference for renewable energy,” stated Naomi Bindman, president of the Solarfest Board. “We wanted to keep all the elements that had made it such a success.”
Discussions with the Southern Vermont Arts Center soon led the Board to recognize the common missions of the two organizations. Established in 1922, SVAC provides cultural, educational and creative experiences for all ages, while SolarFest promotes energy education through the arts. Final approval of a Special Event Permit was granted in March of this year by the Manchester Village Board of Trustees.
This years’ Solarfest will feature 14 world-class musical performers, including Dar Williams, Donna the Buffalo and Marcia Ball; featured artists are Sister Carol, Wild Adriatic and the House Jacks. Their music will fill both the concert hall at the Arkell Pavilion, with 400 indoor seats plus lawn seating, and an outdoor stage in the natural amphitheater of Mount Equinox. Alan Benoit of Sustainable Design has coordinated over 60 workshops in renewable energy, conservation, green building, sustainable living, food, music, arts and advanced technology will be held in the buildings on the SVAC campus. Vendors and other activities will take place on the surrounding outdoor areas.
Tickets, $20 to $60, are on sale now, including discounted one- or two-day passes and camping in the sculpture garden. Surround yourself with art, music you can dance to and information you can use. Gates open at noon on Friday for events from 2 to 11 p.m., and at 8 a.m. on Saturday for events from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit solarfest.org to learn more.