Skerries Eco Festival 2023
Introducing Skerries Eco Festival: 1-3 September 2023
About the Skerries Eco Festival
Concern about climate change and biodiversity loss is rising on a personal and community level. At times, the situation seems hopeless.
And yet… a lot is already happening. And more can be done – by us as individuals, as families, as a local community, as voters, citizens, consumers. As people. Bringing together lots of different thoughts, activities, and ideas. Giving ourselves the space to see what is happening, to explore together where we could go.
This is where the Skerries Eco Festival comes in!
Hands-on workshops organised by local groups (we’re already talking to a number of them; contact us if you’d like to be involved!)
We intend to offer one or more high-powered panel discussions with inputs from the best speakers we can get on climate, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and eco-friendly living.
There will be guided walking tours to introduce locals and visitors to the biodiversity of Skerries, including tours of the Ballast Pit, South Strand and more, with different themes (pollinators, birds, edible landscapes).
And regarding a transition to more sustainable energy, Skerries Sustainable Energy Community Initiative will have events and possibly a fair. More info when we have it!
We plan to have open garden visits: Learn from those who are a little (or a lot) further in their sustainable gardening – hopefully both in people’s back gardens and in Skerries allotments. We’re also looking forward to sessions with the people behind the Skerries Community Garden, located at Skerries Mills.
As for active transport, there will be open cycles through Skerries, organised by the Skerries Cycling Initiative, highlighting active travel possibilities and opportunities to make active travel easier and more enjoyable
On the topic of food, the Skerries Eco Festival could include
- a food gardening workshop
- an eco food fair and / or a Food Trail
- Cooking for Climate and Biodiversity cookery demonstrations and / or workshops
- workshops on ‘greening’ coffee shops and restaurants
- special offers in local hostelries
We are also thinking of a mini film festival and have made first contact with Rockabill Film Club.
What we hope to achieve
Climate and biodiversity issues are by now of general concern, and our festival aims to be inviting and appealing to a broad section of the community, as well as those who are already in the ‘eco sphere’.
We expect the audience of this festival to consist of both local people from Skerries as well as people interested in environmental issues from further afield.
We hope that our direct train connection will encourage day trippers to come join us for the Saturday or Sunday, and are tailoring our programme to this. Cycles and walks will start at the railway station and just after scheduled train arrival times.
With the help of the Fingal Festival Funding Scheme (to which we are applying currently), we hope to make all events either free or very affordable, so that everyone who is interested can attend.
We are looking forward to a weekend that will add even more colour and interest to an already very vibrant town. Our aim is to create a festival which will make locals and visitors alike stop, look, listen, taste, watch, and get involved.
The growing Skerries (and Fingal) “Ecosphere”!
Over the last two decades, Skerries has developed quite the “ecosphere” – and a network of festivals which both enhance the life of residents and make Skerries an even more tempting place to visit (by train or bus hopefully – our festival will take the public transport schedules into account when scheduling events!).
With its slot in early September, the 2023 Skerries Eco Festival complements other events in Skerries and in Fingal:
- St Patrick’s Day Parades in March (various locations), Bike Week in mid-May (various locations), the Skerries Bee Festival (hopefully) in June / July, Skerries Traditional Music Festival in June.
- Skerries 100 Motor Bike Race: 1/2nd July. Skerries Sailing Club Regatta, typically in mid July.
- Flavours of Fingal 1st, 2nd of July. Howth Maritime & Seafood Festival 9 & 10 September (a week after ours). Fingal Poetry Festival in mid-September (based in Skerries; two weeks after our festival). Skerries Scarecrow Festival (hopefully) October.
People in Skerries can look forward to another, hopefully annual, festival at a time in the year when the weather is usually still very good for outdoor pursuits, and when most are settling back into a routine after the school holidays. This is an excellent time to open minds to new ideas, and to learn about, and celebrate, the good things that are already happening.
We will bring life and creativity to the parks and streets of Skerries, and are delighted that our festival team includes people who have been involved in ecological and creative events in Skerries over many years, from Soundwaves in the early 2000s via Fingal Poetry Festival to the Skerries Community Garden’s recently established Scarecrow Festival.
And Skerries is very well positioned to host an eco festival.
- Founded in 2009 as a committee of the Skerries Community Association, Sustainable Skerries have helped set up a wealth of environmental initiatives, including Skerries Allotments, the Skerries Community Garden at Skerries Mills, and the Skerries Sustainable Energy Community Initiative (S-SECI). We have cooperated with many other groups, such in the promotion of Active Travel projects (Skerries Cycling Initiative) and on the setting up of a number of small open orchards throughout Skerries, as well as the drawing-up and implementation of a Biodiversity Action Plan focusing on the Large Carder Bee (Skerries Tidy Towns). Skerries Tidy Towns have been operational for many years and successful in attracting Gold Medals regularly, as well as the overall prize in 2016. The main focus of the Supervalu Tidy Towns competition has over the years shifted from “tidiness” to the overall environment of towns.
- The physical location of Skerries on the main Northern commuter railway line as well as on the seaside also add to the advantages of Skerries.
Precaution regarding Covid-19 and similar challenges
In the context of COVID-19 and possible similar challenges, we will keep an eye on national public health advice. We have previously run events online and will do that again should the need arise, in order to help mitigate against the risk of complete cancellation of our festival.
At the time of writing this (January 2023), we assess the risk as being comparatively low. We will encourage festival goers to follow general public-health guidelines.
In accordance with those currently in place, we ask anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, or who has any symptoms, even mild ones, not to attend any of our in-person events. (We will update this as required.)
Green Festival Guidelines
We will draw up guidelines for all involved to help make the Skerries Eco Festival as “eco” as possible.
These include waste minimisation (using keep cups, using as little paper as possible), using active travel and / or public transport where possible (where not, car pooling might be an option) and more.
We will base our guidelines among others on the Advice on environmental good practice for Festivals & Events in Fingal.
Current Status of the 2023 Skerries Eco Festival
At the time of writing this, in January 2023, we are in the process of applying to Fingal County Council for funding from the 2023 Festivals and Events Funding Scheme. Fingers crossed!
The Sustainable Skerries Food Festival in 2021
As the saying goes: Every little helps. Every small decision, every step towards a more sustainable future.
For instance: Food can play a massive role in drawing down carbon from our atmosphere, and thus helping in the fight against climate change. If everyone ate a little more “slowly” (seasonal, local, organic, waste-minimising: S.L.O.W.), there would be a noticeable difference!
Our festival is all about highlighting such small choices and celebrating good food (good for us and good for the planet) here in Skerries.
Given the year that was in it, we, the festival organisers (Sustainable Skerries, itself a committee of The Skerries Community Association) foresaw that a ‘normal’ food festival would not be possible. How could we still have people learn about, and experience, local food?
First of all, there were four very different online events. Something for everyone, you could say!
- Sat 24 April, 4 p.m.: A panel discussion with five local food producers and retailers under the motto “The People Behind Your Food” featuring Gerry’s, Moriarty’s SuperValu, Shoots & Roots, Hella’s Kitchen, and the Skerries Mills Café.
- Sun 25 April, 10 a.m.: A food gardening workshop with organic gardening expert, Klaus Laitenberger.
- Sun 25 April, 3 p.m.: A session on food foraging with Zaneta Wright of Rerooting the Future.
- Sun 25 April, 5 p.m.: a children’s cookery lesson with Orla Owens of The Cookie Club (donations for this event will go to AsIAm / Skerries Autism Friendly Town).
Quite a choice!
And then there was The Sustainable Skerries Food Festival Trail, which took place in real life. Six Skerries food places. Six tastes. Six hours to try it all! Sat 24 April, from 10 am – the tickets on Eventbrite sold out.
Trail Goers started on Saturday morning between 10 a.m. and 12 noon at Skerries Mills Farmers Market at the Sustainable Skerries stall and picked up the Trail Map plus their first taste (from Shoots & Roots) there.
Then they went to each of the other five participating businesses – Hella’s Kitchen, Skerries Mills Café, Moriarty’s SuperValu, Gerry’s Supermarket and Olive Deli – to see and taste for themselves some of the food choices available in Skerries.
Tickets for the trail cost €10, including all six tastes. This was the first ever Sustainable Skerries Food Festival, and while we are starting small (mainly due to concerns around Covid-19), we have big plans for 2022 and beyond.
The 2023 Festival
What would you like to see as part of the 2023 festival? Send an email to Sustainable Skerries (sustskerries at gmail.com). Maybe you’d even like to join the preparation team?!