Based on an innovative concept of “waste-fuelled fun,” Joey Hundert hopes the world’s first carnival powered by green energy will eventually get millions of people thinking about their own environmental footprint — and the potential for new energy sources like discarded vegetable oils.
“We are planning to have our inaugural carnival this summer, but we were asked to bring a sampling to the Freezing Man (music) festival,” said Hundert, executive director of Sustainival, a group which hopes to soon repeat the green carnival idea in cities across North America.
So while thousands of young music fans listened Saturday evening to more than 30 bands on two stages and lined up for drinks, four rides from their parents’ generation spun and tilted over at one side of the Northlands Expo Centre hall.
The Berry-Go-Round, the Tornado, Swings and the star — the famous Gravitron — are all from a different era, but the three-decades-old blinking units have a retro feel.
“It’s something different for this festival, and we are trying to create this green event for all music festivals,” Sustainival’s assistant producer Jordan Smoliak said.
“And it is more than rides, but a whole system of handling waste and raising awareness, a green approach to an event.”
Concert goers received two free rides with their tickets, and could purchase more.
Out in the loading bay, two large Volvo power generators fuelled by a mix of used vegetable oil and mustard seed oil (produced at Olds College) supply most of the power for the one-day event. The generators were expected to consume 300 litres of the mixture.
Additional wind power energy is being supplied by Bullfrog Power.
Hundert estimated Edmonton restaurants discard 900 million litres of cooking oil a year, which could provide 30 megawatts of green power if used in generators.
While a full-sized festival could include up to 50 rides, Sustainival will be much more than a midway.
“We will invite sports and cultural groups, have contests seeking the best environmental gizmos, books, computer applications. I hope the winners could even make pitches to Dragon’s Den (a popular CBC-TV show),” said Hundert, the local entrepreneur behind the concept.
He doesn’t plan to have Sustainival compete with Capital Ex, but suggests such big events “could use some green spirit.”
And while he has even bigger ideas for Edmonton, such as 3,500 people pedalling in Commonwealth Stadium to power a concert by a group such as Radiohead — “That band is very eco-conscious, and the audience could provide the power. It would be great” — Hundert’s target is to “permanently inspire 100 million people” to live greener lives.
But he admits there are hurdles ahead, including gaining more sponsorship support to take his concept to a wider audience, and time.
“This Sustainival concept is what we have, but it can be copied by others.”
Hundert figures he has less than two years to get his brand out there, to be the first and best in a green-event awareness marketplace.