This past weekend I was in Asheville, North Carolina, for my first major public speaking event! I attended the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, one of six events that Mother Earth News magazine will be hosting around the United States this year.
The North Carolina Fair was my first time attending a MEN Fair, and beyond my own speaking engagements they completely won me over. The event was bigger than I imagined, with hundred of booths of interesting and exciting vendors, several stages of talks going on at all times, and interactive workshops.
I spent the morning before my talk walking around the fairgrounds and checking out the attractions. Always the animal enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to the Livestock Conservancies' area, where various rare and heritage breeds of sheep, chickens, horses, and cows were stabled. Unlike some fairs I've attended, all of the livestock breeders were on hand and excited to chat and allow you to visit with their animals. And there were so many creatures that you just would not see anywhere else! Breeds such as Ankole Watusi cattle, Mangalista pigs, and Jacob sheep were all on display. There was even a Nigerian Dwarf goat with two three-week-old kids that you could pick up and cuddle.
Not only were there amazing animals, but all of the speakers and even sales booths were interesting and informative. The Fair does a great job gathering experts on all sorts of topics and keeping everything running smoothly.
My talks were on Raising Geese and turning an Old Farm into a Modern Homestead. I was pretty nervous about the whole public speaking thing (I've never been micced up before!), but everything went very well. The audiences were great and asked excellent, engaging questions. Both talks went well, and the goose talk in particular I thought was a big success. I also noticed a few things that I can change to make the discussion more engaging, so I am looking forward to my next speaking opportunity.
And speaking of that! I'll be at the Maryland Mother Earth News Fair talking all about geese on Saturday, June 2. There will also be a book signing following my talk - check out details on their website.
Overall the experience was a great one, where I got to meet a lot of cool and wonderfully friendly people and gain a lot of confidence in my own knowledge and abilities. Having said that, I was so happy to get home to my own animals! Farming is definitely the pursuit of a homebody, or at least it appeals to me partly because it does tie you to home. Yes, vacationing is harder, but when you have goats and geese and chickens (and even cats) who are excited to see you every day, who needs a vacation?