A green Oktoberfest:

Organizers of this year’s downtown Oktoberfest are praying for sun, but not for the usual reasons.

This year, the sun not only will be needed to fuel a steady stream of attendees but also to power the event’s live entertainment. Now in its fourth year, the San Juan Citizens Alliance will be using a portable solar collector to power the sound stage, which will feature a revolving line-up of bands over the event’s two-day course.

In addition, the event, held between 9th and 11th streets on Main Avenue Sept. 29-30, will also feature corn-based, compostable beer cups; reusable ceramic beer steins; local and organic food and beer; a recycling center; and biodegradable trash bags.

The changes were the idea of Carol Clark, SJCA developmental director.

“Last year, I was in charge of trash and there was way too much waste,” she said. “I felt like if we were going to talk the talk, we should walk the walk.”

In addition to these changes, Clark said meters will be attached to the electrical lines that power the festival in order to gauge how much energy the

event uses for next year. “We really have no idea how much we’re using, so we want to find out,” she said. “Then we’ll carbon credit that back and next year see if we can get enough solar panels to cover the whole thing.”

The panels will be on loan from San Juan College’s Renewable Energy Program. Furthermore, the recycling will be taken by the City of Durango and the cups will be chipped and composted by APS Topsoil. Furthermore, all four local breweries in attendance operate on wind power.

In order to gain a better understanding on how to throw a green festival, Clark said she contacted the people at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for ideas. “They have a full-on green team,” she said.

Clark said her green team will be made up of herself and two others, but she is hoping the idea will catch on. “Ideally, I’d love to see this start a precedent for other events,” she said.

– Missy Votel