See you at the fair

Rural electric cooperatives support the fair experience

The Energy-Efficiency Wall shows fairgoers ways to reduce costs by making simple changes around the home.
Justin Stuva of Corn Belt Energy Cooperative, staffs the booth at its county fair.
The Energy-Efficiency Wall shows fairgoers ways to reduce costs by making simple changes around the home.

For many of you, your electric cooperative – or those they associate with in the heating and cooling industry – are your friends at the fair, too.

You can generally find them in the vendor area, standing ready to meet and answer your questions. They can provide you with energy saving information to help you reduce your power costs.

Perhaps you’ve seen the traveling Energy-Efficiency Wall. Constructed by Prairie Power, Inc., for use by member cooperatives, the wall is intended to educate members on “What Makes a Home Energy Efficient?” The 16-foot wall illustrates various opportunities for air infiltration or leakage within the common home due to poor construction practices and materials. It addresses the proper use of caulking around penetration points in the home’s external walls, such as window and door openings, gas, water, AC and heating system fuel lines and ventilation systems, and the selection and installation of energy efficient insulation materials, ventilation equipment and lighting systems are just a few of the energy efficient items illustrated in the wall. The display is utilized at annual membership meetings, NRECA and Touchstone Energy regional events, community college workshops, homebuilder shows and also at county fairs.

JoCarroll Energy in Elizabeth is reaching out in its territories, staffing display booths at three fairs, Carroll and Whiteside County Fairs and Elizabeth Community Fair. In addition, this northern cooperative has staff that helps judge projects, sponsors several champion awards and also provides an entry in the Elizabeth fair parade.

In the central region of the state, Corn Belt Energy has most recently become a major sponsor of the McLean County Fair, one of the larger 4-H fairs in the state. A representative of the cooperative staffed a booth at the fair and was able to interact with hundreds of co-op members throughout the week. Because of the interaction, the cooperative is returning to the fair again this year.

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative can be found at the Iroquois County Fair. Like some others around the state, Eastern Illini utilizes the Energy Efficiency Wall, talking with members about the savings they can achieve by incorporating a few changes in their homes. If you tune in, you will also hear your cooperative representatives on the radio, broadcasting live from the fair.

Another cooperative, Shelby Electric, has a presence at two county fairs. It hosts a display and appearances by CFL Charlie at the Shelby County Fair. The cooperative also sponsors the kids’ attractions at the Christian County Fair.

Down state in the southern regions, a beauty queen represents Southern Illinois Cooperative at a local fair. Those of you in attendance for the Union County Fair parade will see the reigning queen riding in a cooperative entry. The queen is chosen based on a number of criteria and given a grand prize of an all-expense paid trip on Youth Tour to Washington D.C. where she meets Congressman, sees the nation’s monuments and learns about cooperative business.

Also in the southern region, Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc. takes an active role in its fair. Fair attendees visiting the cooperative’s booth are treated to small personalized giveaways, along with cooperative literature and information on energy efficiency. Children get introduced to cooperative hospitality, too, receiving helium balloons and candy. And for the big kid in all of us, there’s a grand prize drawing for a TV, microwave or other household appliance. Those visitors with questions on geothermal can talk with the adjoining booth, where a vendor displays.

The Illinois State Fair in Springfield

provides educational experiences about electricity. Former lineman Kyle Finley, owner of Live Line Demo, Inc. gives demonstrations on the dangers of electrical outlets and power lines. You can find Kyle under the tent sponsored by SafeElectricity, an organization founded to promote the safe use of electricity.