By the time the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair ended in 2011, it had recycled 360 cubic yards of cardboard.
In addition, it had recycled about 2,600 lbs. of cooking oil into biodiesel. This year, Powers Great American Midways, the company in charge of furnishing the midway, will save about 125 gallons of fuel in its generators — worth about $5,000 — by using LED lights on 80 percent of its rides and games.
“It's amazing what you save in energy,” said Les “Corky” Powers, owner and president of Powers Great American Midways.
The carnival company, based in Corfu, N.Y., has been phasing in LED lights for the past five years.
The company has seen at least a 70 percent decrease in power consumption since the conversion, Powers said. LED lights function as 60-watt bulbs with only 10 watts of power, said John Cody, a sales representative at The LED Light in Nevada.
His company invested a total of $500,000 in the conversion. Because the lights last a minium of 50,000 hours, the investment was worthwhile, Powers said.
The fair is also going green in the kitchen.
Instead of sending the used oil from cooking the fair's popular french fries, deep-fried Oreos and grilled cheeses to the dump, the fair hires Valley Proteins, a company in Winchester, Va., to recycle the oil into biodiesel and an assortment of other products.
“Fat and oil is 70 percent carbon. When it decomposes it creates methane, which can be 20 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide,” said James Katsias, the assistant director of procurement at Valley Proteins.
Valley Proteins captures about 80 percent of the carbon. The oil is taken to one of its factories, where the water is evaporated off. It then goes through two centrifuge processes to remove food particles.
“What is left is a fine oil,” Katsias said. “If I have a car that runs 10 miles per gallon of diesel, biodiesel will go about nine.”
The recycled oil can be used in other products, too, like face creams and rubber and plastic manufacturing.
The fair is going smart phone-friendly this year with new Quick Response, or QR, codes, which smart phones use to bring up information and launch certain apps.
Fairgoers can scan the codes outside of buildings to bring up a schedule of what events are inside.
Head volunteers, called superintendents, that oversee each station of the fair have created original content for their section of the grounds that can be read via the QR codes.
“It allows each superintendent to take over his domain and own it,” said Jeremy Butz, a member of the fair board of directors.
The fair will also be using a new technologically savvy ticketing system this year.
Managed by the Texas-based ExtremeTix, the system will allow customers to buy and scan their tickets on their phones.
“You can be standing in line to get a hamburger and buy a ticket for the monster truck show, and then just scan your smart phone to get in,” Butz said.
The system is the second generation of the online ticketing that the fair put into place three years ago. It will allow the fair to track how many people are on the grounds in real time so they can better plan for future years.
“It will give us a sense of when the surges and lulls are,” Butz said.