Enter the Green Beast

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The swings ride on the green carnival midway, 100 per cent powered by biodiesel fuel.
Photo courtesy of Sustainival

A community and a carnival inspire a new world of sustainability

ELIN THORA JENSDOTTIR

FORT MCMURRAY, AB - It takes a community to run a carnival. A carnival whose rides, food trucks, lights and all on-site attractions are powered 100 per cent by biodiesel fuel.

That’s probably the coolest thing about Sustainival - the world's first green carnival. It grew out of a question: “How can we effectively reach millions of people and inspire them with a tangible vision of our sustainable future?” 

They came up with a brilliant answer.

On Labour Day weekend, Fort McMurray's Macdonald Island Park will look, from first glance, like any regular carnival. Look closer and you’ll see volunteers dressed in gowns and suits made of recycled material.

"We have a really great culture at Sustainival," said Antoine Palmer, COO of Sustainival, of the family-oriented event.  

Sustainival organizers anticipate a crowd of 20,000 people, if not more, who will experience the gravitron, super slides, swings, plus gain hands-on awareness about renewable energy.

"Alberta is in a really interesting position," said Palmer. "The world continues to need fossil fuels and they're going to continue to be produced as a result of market demand."

"The question is, as Albertans how can we use the wealth, technology and infrastructure that is here as a result of the oil industry and use that to kind of springboard Alberta into the leader in sustainable initiatives."

Sustainival not only educates about the goodness of green energy, but also inspires people to use their own energy to do good.

This year, Sustainival introduces the Green Beast Amazing Eco-Race, which will take over the grounds Aug. 31. Participants will race around the grounds looking for clues and take on challenges to win prizes.

The Green Beast provides fundraising opportunities for individuals or teams. For example you could choose your favorite local charity and raise pledges for your participation in the Green Beast. Once you pick the charity you want to support, you’ll receive your own Green Beast fundraising website which you can promote through email, Facebook and Twitter. It's proved an effective fundraising initiative in previous Sustainival events.

The Green Beast is open to any individual or team; it's up to you if you want to raise funds or just have fun.

More than 100 entrants from the local municipality have already registered with charities. 


Sustainival has had hundreds of thousands of people attend previous years, even when they have had relentless rain.
Photo courtesy of Sustainival

Sustainival has reached out to Fort McMurray's larger businesses, restaurants and hotels that have mass quantities of waste vegetable oil to spare.

"They're generally super-excited to give us their waste-vegetable oil. It's a much more glamorous final resting place for their waste," said Palmer with a laugh.

Palmer is sure there will be enough biodiesel from the community to power the whole weekend, but just in case they have their own back up.

"The rides will be well powered. People will be spinning all weekend," he said.

The plan is to make Sustainival an annual event. As well, it will work with the school board to have Sustainival installations during the school year to provide mini-educational events.

"We want Sustainival to get pulled into the community, and to be a cultural thread in the community that has a constant presence," said Palmer, who was born and raised in Fort McMurray.

Check out our festival overview page for details