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A Guide To Upcoming Local Music Festivals And Events Honestly I never thought of it until recently. It has taken me 33 years to realize its OK to say you"re an artist. I don"t know why but I always felt timid to talk about my art or even admit I drew or painted something... in the last three years I"ve come to terms with my talents and am totally embracing it and having such a fun time in the process. I used to always feel that the art I created was worthless and hated compliments. Wish I could have... stayed positive. Speaking of beer, drinks are not exactly dirt cheap at Off Broadway, but they are pretty reasonable for a respected St. Louis music venue. Stag and Pabst Blue Ribbon beers are $3 most nights, nicer beers might be a little more, and mixed drinks are usually closer to $5. Occasionally, they will offer a special, such as dollar PBRs, but it"s not routine. Kick off fall and bid farewell to summer at an outdoor festival. The Labor Day Spectacular at Wintergreen Resort includes an arts and craft show, live music and more. The Taste of the Mountains Main Street Festival in Madison offers old-fashioned family fun for all ages. If you are planning to visit the US as a part of the music travels, bet you wouldn"t want to miss the Ozzfest. This is the biggest as well as the most influential musical event of the world. Heavy metal is the language that is followed in the Ozzfest. If you are a fan of Ozzy and Black Sabbath, then do not forget to drag yourself to the closing ceremony of this musical fest. This is because those usually perform on the finishing day. Do keep in mind that the dates of this exclusive heavy metal festival wristbands fall in the month of August; it is organized every year. SET THE DATE: The date of your event will depend on a couple of things. If it is a birthday or anniversary event wristbands then you are controlled by the date. If it is just a party the date may be controlled by the locations availability. If the event is at your home then you are in control. Pick what ever date you want. I have even gone as far as check with some guests a couple weeks in advance to make sure they are available on a certain date. I really like success! Fishing sport wristbands is another popular pastime in Lorne. Beach fishing can be good but most anglers seem to prefer the Lorne pier where you can catch just about anything. Whiting and Flathead are a common catch and in winter you can get on to a school of Snapper. Squid can also be caught by jigging at the end of the pier. If you don"t have any luck there is no need to worry because the local fishing co-op is right near the pier and they do very good fish and chips. Before making plans, decide whether you want to spend the weekend working, playing or relaxing. Do you plan to entertain, educate or gather together with family and friends? Wherever your Labor Day weekend plans take you, be careful on the road. Holiday traffic will be heavy and there"s construction around town and across the state.
Wang Xin (left), who owns an organic farm in the Beijing suburbs, discusses how to grow strawberries with an expert in Tochigi prefecture, Japan. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Wang Xin is a landscape designer by profession and a farmer in practice. His customers believe the strawberries he grows on his organic plantation in the southern outskirts of Beijing are "the best in China".

Every day, when men and women of similar age are stuck in heavy traffic and endless meetings, the 33-year-old revels in his rural life, far from the downtown crowds.

He rises with the sun and works all day in the fields or visits the farmers" market to sell his fresh produce. At the end of the day, he goes to bed with sore muscles and falls into a deep sleep.

He does not take time to consider whether the work is hard, preferring to get on with the job. "It has become my lifestyle. This is the life I chose to live," he said.

In a country where food is so central to the national culture, many well-educated urbanites like Wang are returning to the countryside and dedicating themselves to growing fresher, healthier food.

Fresh produce

Every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, Wang brings freshly-picked strawberries to the organic farmers" market in Beijing. They are grown naturally in nutrient-rich soil, without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones or chemicals.

"I don"t plan on becoming filthy rich, or I wouldn"t have gone for organic farming," Wang said. With his firm, athletic build and healthy tan, it is hard to picture him as the designer who used to spend days and nights in front of a computer screen.

Having majored in landscape botany, Wang has always been a plant lover. When he was 25, he realized his sedentary lifestyle was making him gain weight, and he could no longer stand being an office drone. He quit his job, rented two plantation sheds in the suburbs and started his farming career from scratch.

Last month, Wang presented this winter"s first fruit from a batch he planted in September. However, the work really began in July, when he prepared all-natural organic matter to enrich the soil.

The formula has been perfected through years of research in collaboration with Beijing University of Agriculture, where he studied, to simulate the formation of the fertile dark forest soil of Northeast China, known for its high crop yields.

Logically, the true foundation of organic farming lies in soil content: if the soil is right - as a living organism with a complex organic structure - the outcome is safe, and tasty food can be grown without the need for fertilizing chemicals, according to Wang.

But quality produce is not his only objective. He hopes to build a cultivation model that rejuvenates the soil itself, because regular planting and overexploitation can lead to soil degradation within a matter of years.

Wang"s life on the farm has not always been a smooth ride, but after a rough start he believes he has learned valuable lessons. He has gone back to his old university and visited colleagues in Tochigi prefecture, Japan, to study the most modern organic farming techniques.

"For organic farming to become truly sustainable, revitalization of the soil is key. I am certain that in three to four years, the soil I have been reviving will keep getting healthier and healthier," he said.

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