This Saturday I attended Chicago Green Festival at Navy Pier. According to their website, Greenfest is like a "taking a walk through a sustainable community." To me, it was more like taking a walk through a giant infomercial.
It was my first time attending Greenfest and I had high hopes I'd go there, learn tons of new stuff and really relish being surrounded by like-minded people. But there were so many high-pressure vendors yelling from their booths, and worse, standing in the middle of the walkway creating a barrier so that you had to listen to their pitch before passing. My God they were aggressive. I hate that. The worst one was selling some small water bottle with a filter built right into it. This lady was hard core! As I walked through, she stepped in front of me, blocking me in. Then she told me the story of the bottle which included some crap about her super hero husband who I think designed the bottle. I don't know - my eyes glazed over as soon as she started talking. I guess it's efficient to have a filter right there in your water bottle but I know I wouldn't go to the trouble of keeping a stock of the replacement filters and besides, I was highly annoyed by her tactics. And there were a lot of vendors just like her! I sort of found myself peaking down the isle to see if there was any particular booth I wanted to stop at, and plotting how I'd get to them without being accosted by the vendors I wasn't interested in. As a result, I missed a lot but I was so annoyed I didn't even care. I wonder what they'd do if I yelled "ShamWow!" at them as soon as they started their pitch?
There were some interesting lectures at the show, but when I attend these things, I always find I'm battling between whether to sit and listen to lectures, or spend my time out on the showroom floor looking for cool booths. No matter which I choose, I always feel like I'm missing out on something.
The parts of the festival that I did enjoy were the booths who weren't really trying to sell a product as much as teach a concept. Like Chicago Fair Trade and One Seed Chicago. And my group did spend a big hunk of time talking to the guy from Seed Savers. Hearing about the history of Seed Savers as well as how they run their operation was the highlight of the day for me. Plus, I got a free pack of Sheepnose Pimento Peppers. Score! And I did get 4 new plants from a cool vendor whose name escapes me. I also ordered a t-shirt and renewed my subscription to Mother Earth News who had a very low pressure booth at the show.
I was glad to see some of my favorite vegetarian restaurants like Chicago Diner, Soul Vegetarian and Upton's Naturals serving food at Greenfest. It was a heck of a lot better than the corn dog type food normally sold at these shows.
Even though Greenfest was different from what I expected, I enjoyed meeting up with some of my favorite twitter peeps. Xanboni, Alexander_Roman, Copedog, Snarkyvegan, mrbrownthumb, it was great catching up with you. Let's do it again soon!