Few events capture the sun-soaked glory of summer better than a county fair, and when the whirling lights and sounds are powered by clean green energy, what’s not to love? Sponsored in part by PG&E, this year’s Marin County Fair was host to a dazzling array of green innovations ranging from an amazing solar-powered carousel to an all-electric auto show to a sound stage juiced by the sun’s rays. On a recent blue sky summer day I took a trip across the golden gate bridge to check out the “Greenest County Fair On Earth” – read on for the full report!

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Upon entering the Marin County Fair I was immediately greeted with a flourish of green gestures. Ringing the entryway, a water-efficient edible garden sprouted stalks of ruby red chard, while twin towering solar panels crowned with wind turbines rose up from the fairway. These solar panels were scattered all throughout the fair, providing power to exhibits and supplementing the massive photovoltaic array that provides 40% of the fairgrounds’ annual power usage. A ride aboard the ferris wheel afforded a stellar birds-eye view of the grounds, where I caught a glimpse of the fair’s shining solar power source.

One of the highlights of the fair was the Electric Wheels Car Show, which showcased a cutting-edge collection of green vehicles ranging from a Tesla Roadster to UC Berkeley’s solar powered race car to several gorgeous classic cars updated with all-electric transmissions by Electric Marin Wheels. A portable solar array provided a steady stream of energy to all of the vehicles on display, ensuring that their entire power cycle was truly zero emissions.

Another main attraction at the Marin County Fair was a solar-powered carousel. This classic amusement ride has been retrofitted with a stunning LED light display and features 18 horses and a chariot. Nearby a giant solar array soaked up enough energy to run the carousel well into the night. What better way to impress kids with the power of renewable energy?

PG&E’s booth provided a wealth of information on their clean energy initiatives including ClimateSmart, CARE, and their residential rebate programs. Kiosks in the booth featured a carbon calculator game that encouraged fairgoers to enter in lifestyle choices such as the number of plane flights they took and the amount of miles the drove, and then presented them with a carbon footprint analysis. They also turned me on to California Youth Energy Services, a non-profit that employs youth to provide free “green house calls” (complete with services and products like CFL’s) to ensure that your home is operating at its highest level of efficiency.

As the day wound to a close the sounds of Creedence filled the air as the fair’s solar stage leapt to life. The rocking sound system and LED stage lighting drew all of its energy from a 6kw solar array, providing the perfect power source for blistering guitar solos. Finally, a fantastic display of fireworks capped off a spectacular summer day.

+ Marin County Fair

+ Marin County Fair Photo Gallery

+ PG&E

All photos by Mike Chino