The Daily Gamecock

Columbia hosts first bike-powered music festival at SolFest RollFest

<p>Volunteers ride stationary bikes powering live music at SolFest RollFest on July 2, 2022. This is the first bike-powered music festival in Columbia.&nbsp;</p>
Volunteers ride stationary bikes powering live music at SolFest RollFest on July 2, 2022. This is the first bike-powered music festival in Columbia. 

SolFest RollFest, a music festival presented by Noma Warehouse on July 2, 2022, at Earlewood Park, was the first sustainably run and environmentally conscious music festival in Columbia.

In addition to food trucks, vendors and sponsored bike rides, the festival hosted multiple bands including headliner Illiterate Light, Columbia based Opus & the Frequencies and Charleston based Homemade Haircuts.

The event's entertainment was fully run by renewable resources with bikes and solar panels. The festival featured two stages where one, the "roll' stage,  was powered by volunteers riding stationary bikes. The bikes were hooked up to a generator and provided the energy to power the performances.

Beth Lawson, the owner of Noma Warehouse, said the bike-powered stage came to fruition thanks to Rock the Bike, a company that created the pedal-powered generators, and Illiterate Light, a duo from Virginia that has a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

"This is definitely new to us," Lawson said leading up to SolFest RollFest. "Illiterate Light actually owns six of these generators, and are bringing them with them to the show, along with two solar power generators.

Mazie Cook, co-founder and creative director of Noma Warehouse, said that while the bikes and solar panels are not powering the whole festival by themselves, any effort helpsespecially on such a large scale. 

 “It’s going to be supplemental power, but it still helps a lot and the idea is that we just work towards doing things more sustainably and this is a fun way we can do that," Cook said. "I don't think that this has really been done on such a large scale yet before."

Cook said this was the first time Noma has ever implemented this alternative energy source to power the stage.  

“We’ve partnered with Blue Bike SC to provide the six stationary bikes that will be attached to the generators, and then we’ve got a small army of volunteers,” Lawson said. “People are so excited to be able to get on this bike and actually let their physical energy power the stage. It’s going to be really, really cool to watch." 

Emphasizing sustainability, the event asked festival-goers to bring their own reusable cups to prevent excess landfill waste. Instead of selling merchandise for the festival, Noma Warehouse also asked attendees to bring their own shirts to have the event's logo screen printed onto them.

According to Connor Mouzon, a festival goer, those efforts should not just be festival organizers responsibilities, but every person should make these choices in their daily lives to strive for a sustainable lifestyle.

“I think that it’s just important that we each take the individual responsibility to take small actions throughout our daily life to make a conscious effort to be sustainable and to protect what we already have,” Mouzon said. “Ultimately, that’s what’s going to start making a difference firsthand.”

To help support sustainability in Columbia, a portion of the proceeds went to Palmetto Cycling Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to making South Carolina bicycle and pedestrian-friendly through access and education. Proceeds also went to Sustainable Midlands, another non-profit organization that educates and advocates for sustainability locally and across the Midlands. 

“We reached out to (Sustainable Midlands) because they are so important here in our community and just offered to donate proceeds from this event to them to help them just inform and educate our community on ways to be more earth-friendly and sustainable,” Lawson said. 

Cook said that sustainability is always an effort for the community, but being environmentally conscious is a first step in the right direction, including making little sacrifices everyday to keep the Earth healthy. 

“The more that we can be sustainable and keep (the Earth) happy and healthy, the more we get to all party together," Cook said.