Energy adviser: New activities sprout at home, garden idea fair



Homegrown inspiration will bloom later this month at Clark Public Utilities’ Home and Garden Idea Fair, a spring tradition for 21 years.

Nearly 20,000 visitors are expected to flock to the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds for the annual event, held this year from April 27-29.

The free show offers the many attractions fairgoers have come to expect: hundreds of exhibitors with home and garden-related products and services, the latest in energy-efficient technologies, full-scale landscape displays, and one of the largest plant sales in the region. But you’ll also find some new additions.

This year, browse local farmers market vendors at the event for the first time. Several of the county’s markets will be represented, with nearly 20 vendors offering local produce, artisan food products and crafts for sale.

“Part of the utility’s goal with the event is to support organizations that are like-minded,” said Heather Allmain, Clark Public Utilities communication services manager. “We’re promoting the idea of supporting your local growers, farmers and product purveyors.”

Returning to the fair is New Tradition Homes’ popular Energy Smart Home display. The 24-by-24-foot model home built to showcase a variety of energy-efficient technologies includes tankless solar and hybrid water heating systems, a ductless heat-pump and a photovoltaic solar generating display. The exhibit also features a home automation system, in which an iPad serves as the brain of the house and controls its various heating, cooling and lighting needs. Visitors to New Tradition Homes’ display can enter to win a new iPad.

Parked near the Energy Smart Home will be a new Mitsubishi electric car and a demonstration of residential car-charging technology.

Clark Public Utilities energy counselors will be at the fair to offer tips on reducing energy waste. They can also answer questions about utility programs and incentives, such as the refrigerator recycling program that offers customers a $30 credit when they use the utility program to properly recycle old refrigerators and freezers. Speaking of proper disposal, if you have any old compact fluorescent light bulbs hanging around the house, bring those with you to the fair. The utility will recycle up to six old bulbs per customer and replace each with brand-new CFLs.

Fun for kids

Also new to the fair this year is the interactive Power Zone exhibit, which teaches children about electricity and electrical safety. The exhibit reinforces the power of electricity and cautions children to stay clear of power lines and transformers. The Power Zone also offers hands-on activities, including a bicycle generator that allows a bulb to be lit using kid power. Other activities include making bird feeders, building dinosaur terrariums and planting flowers.

You might want to plan your visit beforehand. With 120 businesses participating in the fair, dozens of local nonprofit organizations, more than 60 plant vendors and a vast kids’ activities area, there’s a lot to see. You can find a list of exhibitors on the utility’s website,, as well as a schedule of presentations on topics such as urban beekeeping and collecting water in rain barrels.

What you plan to do at the fair will factor into how you choose to get there. If you just want to check out the event, you can catch a free shuttle from the 99th Street or Fisher’s Landing transit centers to the fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

But, if you plan to buy a tree or large perennials from one of the many plant nurseries participating in the plant fair, coordinated by the Specialty Nursery Association of Clark County, you’ll probably want to go ahead and pay the $6 parking fee and drive to the event.

“It’s a full-day, family event,” said Allmain. “Thousands of our customers come every year to get new ideas to make their homes more comfortable and beautiful.”

Although admission is free, the fair encourages a donation of two cans of food for Clark County food banks. Also welcomed are cash donations to Operation Warm Heart, which helps low-income families in crisis pay their utility bills.

Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us, call 360-992-3355, email or visit