Cultivating Community Through the Greater Good Festival

Community

Social media is a great way to meet people. We meet like-minded people we would have never met otherwise. It’s exciting when we actually get to meet those people in person. The opportunity to get outdoors with other families in the community is why my family and I decided to support the Greater Good Art, Music and Children’s Festival this year by attending for the weekend. The festival created a family atmosphere for an outdoor adventure while meeting people we hadn’t seen for years, meeting some new ones, and meeting local Twitter friends.

This year the Greater Good event also helped raise awareness for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, an organization bringing together mentoring relationships for children. What in our busy lives could be more important than the encouragement and guidance we can bring to others? So, in a fun, family, outdoor environment we took the opportunity to cultivate our own family relationships as well as to help cultivate community.

The festival was held at Adventures Unlimited, so people could camp and stay together all weekend or just come and go on various days. Adventures Unlimited offers cabin camping or regular tent or in our case pop-up camper camping. We recently bought a camper that we got to use for the first time. Love it! Although we did not bring our kayak on this trip, there is river access which is perfect for kayaking, canoeing or tubing. Scout groups and other youth groups can come and use the other amenities like the rope course. This area is even available for company picnics. The large open field was the perfect place for safe playing and relaxing. We all brought our chairs and blankets and spent the day together.

Favorite Festival Vendors:

  • Beehaven– My daughter was immediately enamored by artist Talia J. Gate’s Blushing Ballerinas, so we bought her the note cards which included five different ones.
  • Gulf Coast Authors– We were excited to see the great books offered by our own local writers. One of the books called From the Wilderness by J.R. Thompson is said to make a good read for children ages 8 to 98. A recipe book by ToniAnn Guadagnoli caught my attention. She includes recipes from her Italian family for tiramisu, bruschetta, eggplant parmesan, and biscotti in her book titled Recipes and Remembrance.
  • Escambia Amateur Astronomers– This booth was a favorite of our whole family, especially of our son. We viewed various things including the sun with a filter and in the evening the Orion nebulus. They will be having stargazing at Pensacola Beach on March 19, 21, 23. If you want more astronomy activities for children, check out this page for your junior astronomer http://www.eaaa.net/juniorpagesection.htm

Favorite Festival Activities:

  • Mike Potters, the Belmont youth guitar instructor, held a kazoo and harmonica workshop which was a hit with the children. Mike gave out free kazoos and harmonicas and taught the children a few songs to play with their new instruments. He and Lauren Southern, the children’s area coordinator, also lead the children in singing songs; I even loved singing along!
  • Hula hooping– Hula hoops were lying around the children’s tent for anyone to pick up and try. People of all ages enjoyed them.
  • Face painting– There were always lines of kids waiting to get their faces painted. The workers were great! Kids got to pretend to be butterflies, lions and many other things. Our daughter got transformed into a snow fairy on Saturday and became a beautiful queen on Sunday.
  • Relaxing by the river– Many of us decided to take a break from the music and games to just explore alongside of the river while the kids played. Other families rented kayaks for some time out on the water.
  • Music– Musicians like Tanya Gallagher, Tammerlin, and Betsy Badwater played most of the day and into the evening.

The Greater Good Art, Music and Children’s Festival was a great family event for fostering community. I hope to see you next year. In the mean time, as the weather warms and we start carefully cultivating our gardens, we can also cultivate our own family relationships. Outdoors in the fresh air is a great place to do that. Life is Short, Live with Purpose, Let’s Go Explore!

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