About 500 people visited Fowler Park in Benton County Saturday for the area’s third-annual Wind Fest. The event offered educational booths and opportunities for residents to learn about wind energy and turbines.
Wind power is a controversial subject in West Central Indiana. Tippecanoe County commissioners passed a complete ban on industrial wind farms earlier this year, and Montgomery County officials created strict regulations for turbine construction after residents opposed potential developments in the area.
But Fowler event coordinator Laura Burton says in Benton County, the industry has brought opportunities to grow and develop.
“There are surrounding counties that are looking into getting the wind turbines and are kind of sketchy about it, so this is a great opportunity for them to come to our town and hear directly from those companies,” Burton says.
Ivy Tech Community College had a booth at Wind Fest for residents to test out equipment used by repairmen. The college awards technical certificates in wind energy. Program chair and professor John Roudebush says a few dozen students enroll each year.
“A lot of the people that are in these tents actually went through this program, then they graduated and they got jobs here working in the local wind farms,” Roudebush says.
Burton says wind firms make a donation to the city to fund the festival.
Among the energy companies exhibiting were Pattern, BP, and NextEra.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story estimated 200 people attended the festival. Event coordinator Laura Burton estimates closer to 500 people attended. The story also stated the city of Fowler arranged the event; Burton did arrange it, but she was hired to do so by the wind companies, not the city.