It’s always a rarity when a carnival finds a creative use for cooking oil that doesn’t involve fried food.

Sustainival, a touring Edmonton-based carnival, brought rides powered by recycled vegetable oil to MacDonald Island Park this weekend, giving Fort McMurray a family-focused summer sendoff.

Billed as “The World’s First Green Carnival,” founder Joey Hundert says he wants to get people thinking about energy and innovation, while having fun.

“The point of Sustainival is to give people that grand “a-ha!” moment, to start thinking about green energy and sustainability,” said Hundert. “What better place to do that than Fort McMurray? If anyone’s thinking about energy innovation, it’s here. How many engineers are there in Wood Buffalo? It’s gotta rank globally.”

Hundert first brought Sustainival to Fort McMurray during last year’s Labour Day weekend. The carnival was set up along the Snye and built a lot smaller. But the popularity of the carnival inspired Hundert to bring more attractions to a bigger venue.

The carnival also hosted the Green Beast, a competition inspired by the Amazing Race. During the competition nearly a thousand participants were required to ride every ride, play every game, participate in physical challenges and search the area for clues to fill out a crossword puzzle.

The grand prize was an all-inclusive seven-day trip to Mexico. Hundert estimated he had $15,000 in prizes for 300 people.

“That’s just one of the ways we’ve gone a lot bigger,” he said. “We’ve also deepened our relationship with Fort McMurray and decided to put a focus on it.”

The passion for energy is also one of the reasons Hundert’s sister project Sustainitech fought for – and won – a municipal contract to convert local landfill waste into food.

“What people are looking at is technology that already exists right here in their community,” said Hundert. “And people love that.

Hundert’s rides run entirely on biofuel extracted from canola seeds, and also raids local restaurants and fast food joints for their discarded oil. This year, he also had a wind turbine and solar panels powering a stage and lights.

The carnival is designed to be an educational experience, not a rally against fossil fuels or the oil industry. In fact, Hundert doubts biodiesel will meet the energy needs of the future and large-scale production would only harm food prices, a disastrous scenario for developing countries.

“Local based biodiesel, from local fast food joints or agriculture is good,” he said. “It could be extended to public transport or emergency vehicles. But putting this in the family car or an SUV? I see that as not practical and wasteful. You’d be talking about a bushel of grain for 10 miles.”

See the original post here: