NCBA CLUSA and almost 40 of its partners celebrated the launch of National Co-op Month last weekend at the 2018 Co-op Festival on the National Mall just outside the Smithsonian Castle.
With displays, activities and giveaways designed to amplify the economic impact, diversity and sustainability of the cooperative business model, the two-day event drew an estimated 20,000 people to the nation’s front yard. Attendees enjoyed live music, sampled co-op food—like Organic Valley yogurt, Cabot Creamery cheese and Sunkist oranges—and, most importantly, learned how co-ops are building a better, more inclusive world. Check out this year’s photos here!
Visitors to the National Mall came away with a better sense of how co-ops impact their local economies. By being mindful of the co-ops that do business in their neighborhoods, consumers can ensure the money they spend is reinvested in the communities where they live.
Partners like America’s Electric Cooperatives contributed to the educational tone, informing consumers about electricity safety with demonstrations that included roasting a hot dog on a live power line carrying 14,000 volts of electricity—making quite an impression on bystanders. Visitors to the Mall also learned how to prevent power outages and what it takes to restore power firsthand from Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative linemen.
America’s electric co-ops invest $12 billion annually in local economies and power more than 19 million homes, schools, businesses and farmers across the U.S.
At the Riceland exhibit—a first-time partner this year—festival attendees learned how the family farmer-owned cooperative conserves water and provides a habitat for waterfowl by practicing sustainable farming. They also got to mill rice and take home samples.
Participants at America’s Credit Unions exhibit got a chance to grab “cash” in a money machine and then learn how credit unions maximize the amount of money that goes back to their members and communities through lower interest rates and fewer fees. Maryland’s largest credit union, SECU, was on hand to talk about financial health.
At the Organic Valley Kids’ Zone, kids learned how to make their own butter from buttermilk, milk a cow and even “name that [barnyard animal] poop.” Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative and one of the world’s largest organic consumer brands.
Cabot Creamery hosted our popular Passport Booklet Scavenger hunt, sending families all around the festival to learn about the co-op principles. Girls and Boys Scouts also had the opportunity to earn a Co-op Community Patch! Attendees had the opportunity to pick up a Co-op Festival t-shirt – donated by Fairtrade America, and sourced directly from a fair trade Indian cotton cooperative.
The 2018 Co-op Festival also provided a platform for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make its National Co-op Month Proclamation—an annual event since 1964. Bette Brand, Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Development-Cooperative Service; and Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at USDA delivered the agency’s proclamation during an October 5 reception sponsored by festival partner CoBank.
If you didn’t get a chance to come out to the National Mall October 6 and 7, we hope you enjoy this photo album featuring some of our favorite moments from Co-op Festival.
Start planning now to join us in 2020!