Summer in Ruidoso, N.M., will feature the first southwest EcoFest, slated to be held in Wingfield Park.
"EcoFest is a way we've come up with to get the community together and teach them about building a sustainable world," said Alvin Smith, an AmeriCorps ecoranger working with EcoServants on the project, uniquely geared toward living in the southwestern U.S.
Looking to serve residents from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Mexico, Smith said the festival, held Aug. 10, 11 and 12, would feature two days of seminars, concerts and other events, along with a final day for EcoLoop, where the public will tour environmentally friendly residences and businesses.
"Now that we're working with (Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso), it will be a good fit for us," said Stephen Carter, head of EcoServants, of the event. He said ENMU-R would host indoor exhibits and some of the seminars.
Carter said tickets for Friday and Saturday at the event would cost $40 per person, children 12 and younger, free, with the Saturday dinner for an additional $35. But these prices may change, depending on later sponsors and events, he added.
One-hour seminars, held throughout Friday and Saturday, would feature classes, such as growing in a southwest desert, water conservation techniques, solar and wind options, recycling, home gardening, composting, adobe home construction, and "anything that relates to the southwest climate and southwest lifestyle," Smith said.
events also would abound during EcoFest, Smith said. Concerts from local and touring bands would keep the event hopping.
And after Friday and Saturday wound down, participants will be encouraged to take a tour of environmentally friendly homes, said Casey Stephenson, an EcoServants worker.
"(EcoLoop) is going to be going around and seeing resources around town," she said, adding that she hoped to include many of the stops from an upcoming solar tour in April.
Residents and businesses throughout Lincoln County practicing green living are encouraged to participate, Stephenson said, looking to add more stops on the map.
"There are other EcoFest events through the country, but this is the first for New Mexico and the southwest region," Smith said. "We're still in the process of trying to grow (EcoFest), but we have people who have committed to us."
But there still is plenty of room for more volunteers and sponsors, Smith said. He said he hopes to get as many people involved in the event, and lifestyle, as possible.
Smith said participating non-profit groups and businesses would be recognized for their contributions during the events, as well as on websites and EcoFest merchandise.
Smith said sponsors would be recognized through a tiered sponsorship program as platinum, gold, silver or bronze sponsors, though requirements for each level were currently on the drawing board.
Sanctuary on the River already is a major sponsor, Smith said, and will cater the event's dinner, which will be held on Saturday.
"Because we're located on the river, right by (Wingfield Park), they were really excited about working with us," said Debbie Haines-Nix, owner of the retreat.
"We think (Sanctuary on the River) is a good complement to what these young guys and girls are doing with EcoServants," Nix said.
She said she is planning to host seminars at the retreat on raised-bed and hydroponic gardening, along with other events for children, giving people an on-site look at where their dinner is coming from.
Volunteers would be appreciated and rewarded as well, Smith said. He said he hopes to see more high school students sign on with the group to lend a hand and learn.
"If any high school kids want to get in at a discounted price, or even free, (they should) come volunteer," he said.
Volunteering would give them a leg up for summer employment with EcoServants, he said. The event would give volunteers a chance to demonstrate their work ethic while setting up and staffing the event, as well as to get some training for summer trailblazing with the Youth Conservation Corps.
Workers with the corps, in addition to hourly pay, are eligible for up to $1,175 in scholarships through AmeriCorp, along with college credits. Applications for summer corps are due on May 18, and work begins on June 4. Workers must be between the ages of 16 and 25.
For more information on EcoServants, visit their website at www.ecoservants.org. Details on EcoFest will be added to the site in two to three weeks, Smith said.
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