Hundreds of people came to the Coon Rapids City Center Saturday to check out the latest in green and sustainable living options.
The city of Coon Rapids’ third annual Green Expo featured speakers, demonstrations and exhibits throughout the civic center as well as the hallways of the city center itself.
“Whether you are just starting or looking to make deeper changes in your personal life or in your home, this expo was for you,” said Colleen Sinclair, Coon Rapids recycling coordinator and organizer of the expo.
According to Sinclair, the expo “went amazingly well” with anywhere between 650 and 700 people attending.
“Everyone was very happy,” Sinclair said. “We got a lot of good comments from people, the vendors like the way the exhibits were laid out and the speakers did an outstanding job.”
Greeting people as they arrived at the city center was a Chevrolet Volt electric car, which was being charged.
Inside was a host of exhibits and activities for all ages.
There were featured speakers in the council chambers including keynote speaker Lonnie Dupre, a Polar explorer who has traveled more than 15,000 miles in the high Arctic and Polar regions for the past 25 years.
Dupre, who also happens to be a 1979 graduate of Coon Rapids High School, presented a slide show and video of his expeditions, then signed copies of his new book, “Life on Ice.”
The council chambers was packed for Dupre’s presentation, Sinclair said.
According to Dupre, the impetus for his career as a Polar explorer was “my love of winter” when growing up on a farm outside Forest Lake, he said.
Greenland is his favorite country to go on expeditions because “I love the Polar Eskimos and there are lots of bears,” Dupre said.
But at the age of 51, Dupre plans to slow down a bit and does not have any expeditions planned for this summer, he said.
Back in January, Dupre made his second attempt to climb Denali, also known as Mount McKinley in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain at over 20,320 feet and bad winter weather thwarted his efforts.
“That was a little hard and I am not getting any younger,” Dupre said.
As he was setting up in the council chambers for his talk, Dupre was greeted by his former wrestling coaches at Coon Rapids High School.
Dupre was on the CRHS wrestling team for two years when he was coached by head coach Bob Board and assistant Marlyn Hyland, who both stopped by the expo to renew acquaintances with Dupre.
According to Board, Dupre was close friends with fellow CRHS wrestling Jay Molitor.
During one wrestling season, they placed a test line in the Mississippi River, which the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) required to be checked daily, Board said.
“They would leave wrestling practice early each day to check the line, which upset me,” he said.
Molitor, who lives in Cambridge, was expected to stop by the expo to visit with his friend, Dupre, who now lives in Grand Marais, Board said.
Molitor’s son, Zach, won a state championship as a wrestler at Cambridge and was a national wrestling champion wrestling for Augsburg College, Minneapolis, according to Board.
Other presentations in the council chambers were by Arne and Kari Olson, owners of Houle Insulation; a representative from Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles who spoke about bicycle maintenance; and Coon Rapids resident Marcia Baudino, who grows enough produce in her garden yard to make meals for her family year-round.
In addition, representatives of the Minnesota Herpetological Society, a nonprofit, volunteer organization who share a common interest in amphibians and reptiles, were set up in one of the civic center rooms with a couple of large pythons.
The pythons drew plenty of interest from both adults and children.
According to society member Nancy Haig, the organization presents hands-on educational programs so that “people learn about and not fear snakes.”
All ages were invited to touch the snakes. “Pythons have very good eyesight,” Haig said.
The eco-teens club from Coon Rapids High School hosted an activity where children could create and take home an art project made out of recycled egg cartons.
And there were drawings for two rain barrels, two compost bins, a bat house and other prizes.
There was also a book exchange for people to bring gently used books for others to read and find one for themselves.
Exhibitors at the expo included Air Mechanical, Anderson Irrigation, Anoka County, Attic Armour LLC, Aveda, Bag-E-Wash, Bunker Hills Clubhouse, Coon Rapids Forestry Department, Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation, Coon Rapids Parks Department, Coon Rapids city staff, Coon Rapids Recycling Center, Coon Creek Watershed District, Coon Rapids Middle School Eco-teens, Coon Rapids Sustainability Commission, Cub Foods Coon Rapids South, Culinary Delights Farm LLC, Earth Wizards, Ecological Gardens, Farm of Plenty, Financial One Credit Union, Frog Box, Grass Roots Co-op, Harvest Grill, Houle Insulation, Aquarius Water Conditioning (Kinetico), LePage & Sons Waste Solutions, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Marcia Baudino, Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles, Norwex, Powerfully Green, Quality Used Appliances, Quarve Contracting Inc., Renewable by Anderson, Raju’s Art, Home Depot, Thirty One, Tupperware and Walters Recycling & Refuse.
The Green Expo started in 2010 as a partnership between the city of Coon Rapids and its Sustainability Commission.
The commission comprises Coon Rapids residents that support efforts to promote a green, sustainable and affordable community.
Commission members are Chris Backes, Afton Martens, Dave King, Joeleen Famoso, Stacee Demmer, Gabe Routh, Bob Krahn, Don Stauffer and Pam Foster.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]