Residents attending Grove City's EcoFest on Aug. 19 might not have driven to the event, but one of the day's main attractions offered them a chance to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Clean Fuels Ohio, a nonprofit organization promoting the use of alternative fuels and efficient vehicles, sponsored Ride and Drive, in which festival visitors could sign up to test-drive one of five electric vehicles in a set route around Grove City.

"What we find is that people have a lot of preconceptions about electric cars," said Sam Spofforth, Clean Fuels Ohio's executive director. "People just don't know much about these cars. That lack of knowledge and driving experience serves as a barrier."

The Ride and Drive has been featured at each of the three EcoFest events Grove City has held.

"It's a relaxed environment to come out, test-drive an electric vehicle and experience it for yourself," Spofforth said.

Before they take their drive, participants fill out a short survey regarding their notions about electric cars, especially in comparison to vehicles with traditional internal-combustion engines, he said.

"Then we have them take another survey after they've driven the cars," Spofforth said. "Typically, people have a positive experience. They are surprised at the power of an electric car.

"It's a different feeling when you step on the accelerator. The car provides instant torque.They find it's zippy, quick and fun to drive," he said.

Grove City resident John Roush signed up to take a test drive of a BMW i3.

"I've been really interested in learning more about electric cars," Roush said. "I thought it would be fun to drive one. I was curious to see how it performed."

Roush said he was pleased with the driving experience.

"It performed similar to, if not better than, a gas-powered car," he said. "The rate of acceleration really surprised me. Plus it was a really comfortable car to drive."

The next time he buys a car, Roush said, he will give some thought to purchasing an electric car.

"The maintenance of an electric car is easier and less expensive, and I like the energy efficiency," he said.

Volunteers from the Gardens at Gantz Farm offered a variety of demonstrations on using herbs in cooking and creating household cleaners and beauty products with natural ingredients.

"This event is a perfect fit for us," said volunteer Alice Sweeley. "Our mission as a volunteer group extends beyond just maintaining the Gardens at Gantz for people to walk through and enjoy. We're also presenting a lot of classes and family and children's activities throughout the year. What we do is promote the interest in and use of plants, and especially herbs."

The group's demonstrations at EcoFest covered everything from how to make toothpaste to creating homemade hand sanitizers.

Linda Everts showed how to create what she calls Merlin's Magical Antiseptic Soap Solution.

"It's an all-natural cleaner you can use around the house," she said.

"I use Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap -- tea-tree oil, which is what gives it its antiseptic properties, and purified water."

Everts said she uses the cleaning solution on her kitchen counters, stove top and bathroom fixtures.

"I even use it to wash my hands," she said. "You can use it on your floor. It's an all-purpose cleaner, although it's not a stain remover.

"There's no ingredients that are going to have an effect on your lungs or your eyes," she said. "You know exactly what's in it, unlike the synthetic cleaners you buy at the store.

"And it's just as effective a cleaner as anything you're going to buy off the shelf," Everts said.

Cheri Raines offered tips on practicing herb weaving.

"You take an old picture frame or old scrap wood and, taking string, wrap it loosely around (the frame), and you take some herbs and plants or stems that are the same width as the width of the frame," Raines said.

The herbs and plants are secured by tying them with the string.

"It makes a handy place to keep herbs in your kitchen. You can just reach up and take the herbs you want to use in your cooking," Raines said. "It also brings a nice aroma of herbs and plants into your house and is a nice decorative accent to your home."

Boy Scout Troop 412 sold candy bars at its booth, but also offered information about the Scouts' outdoor code.

"It's the idea of leaving a campsite the way you left it," said troop member Taylor Armstrong. "That's what everybody should do."

"There's a motto we use that 'you take only pictures and leave only footprints,' " troop member Gunnar Schmidt said.

During any camping trip, "we try to leave no trace that we were ever there," Taylor said. "In fact, we try to leave the area better than we found it."

The same was true at EcoFest, he said.

"Before we leave, we'll make sure we clean up the whole area around our booth," Taylor said. "We'll clean up any other trash or debris we see."

The Scouts also handed out children's posters that featured information about butterflies and pollination.

"It's a fun way for them (festival guests) to learn about the different types of butterflies and how bees and butterflies pollinate our flowers," Taylor said.

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