How does an organization like *culture is not optional measure the success of an event like Future Fest? Is it successful if we make a bunch of money that we can pour back into the school? Is it successful if we get big numbers and meet lots of people? Is it successful if we make connections with new members of the community with whom we can foster relationships that might lead to future collaboration? Or is it successful if even a few people have a good time and relax?
Thankfully, the question is irrelevant because we managed all of those things this past Saturday at Huss, and by many accounts it was our most successful Future Fest to date. So what happened?
Rummage Sale: We had rummage. Oh boy, did we have rummage! It literally spilled out into side hallways and even threatened to burst out of the doors and into the streets. Half of the main hallway of Huss, plus a room, was full of donated items from friends, family, and members around the community. We had everything from clothing to electronics to books and books and more books. Half of our building was basically a Goodwill on Saturday, but our deals were better and people bought a bunch of stuff!
Farmer’s Market: Our Farmer’s Market this year featured donations from many local farms, including Bair Lane Farm, Corey Lake Orchard, Sustainable Greens, White Yarrow Farm, Bluebird Farms, Riverland Farm Market, Gilchrist Gardens, items from the Triple Ripple Community Garden at Huss, and even a few donations from local people in the community from their own gardens. We sold nearly everything donated, and what wasn’t sold was given out to local charitable organizations. We even had a special guest goat hanging around!
Coffee House: Set up in what was once a kindergarten room, our Coffee House this year featured cool drinks, like iced tea, coffee, and lemonade, as well as some delicious baked goods from local donors. Particularly popular throughout the hot day were the watermelon popsicles.
Music: The music this year featured a wonderful mix, with everything from Celtic acoustic to the blues. Our opening act was a pair of acoustic musicians styling themselves Solomon and Luke, and they serenaded us with classic folk melodies played on a guitar, a mandolin and a banjo. The second band up was the Open Field Band, featuring members of elle/the REMNANT, who added their own twist on beautiful folk melodies, but this time using stringed instruments like violins and cellos. Our third band livened things up a bit by filling the air around Huss with the kind of blues you don’t hear everyday. Blues Shed saw our biggest crowd, and they did not disappoint. Last up, to send us out with a bang, was Fox, a riff/rock blues/rock band out of Kalamazoo.
Art Vendors & Installation: This year’s art vendors numbered a baker’s dozen, and featured items of various styles, including jewelry, ceramics, pottery, and more jewelry. We even managed to set up a *cino table to sell some asterisk-marked glasses, some poetry stones, and even some Huss Project t-shirts. This year’s art installations featured a piece by Patrick Hershberger located at the main entrance to Huss. Patrick and his colleagues had done a previous installation on the back wall of Huss that we love, and his newest work is beautiful, unique and sends a clear message to anyone walking in the front doors. We also had a wonderful hanging piece displayed in our face-painting room by Kaylee Brown, a local artist living in Three Rivers. And near a back entrance, we had two installations by our very own Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma, one called Security System, and another a visual representation of the many donors to our Brick Campaign that hangs still in a rear hallway of the building.
Craft Tent & Maypole: The craft tent this year found itself in the backyard of Huss and was active the entire day. The activities included Whimsicle Pinwheels, Bottlecap Necklaces, Duct Tape Coin Satchels, Homemade Watercolors, Printmaking with Recycled Materials, Recycled Cap Art, and a Garland Making Party, as well as a collaborative project to paste names on to one of our window covers to display at Huss. Near the craft tent, the Maypole, a new addition to Huss and to Future Fest, saw several roundabouts on Saturday, one of which coincided perfectly with some Celtic music being played nearby.
Coin Carnival: Our coin carnival, a new attraction to Future Fest, had a multitude of participants wandering around and playing carnival type games. The organizations involved included the Three Rivers Public Library, the Animal Rescue Fund, the American Red Cross, Florence Church, St. Joseph County Human Services and Intermediate School District, Riverside Church, and TRAFC/Luther D. Channey CODC/Educational Enrichment.
Fish Fry and Grill: The food is always a huge draw to Future Fest, and it never disappoints. This year found the return of the TRAFC fish fry, featuring excellent catfish and sweet potato fries, and the Community Garden Grill, featuring vegetables from the garden in the back of Huss, as well as the ever-popular Sand Lake Party Store bratwursts.
Workshops: In the gym of Huss, we implemented a series of workshops throughout the day. This year included a Tai Chi workshop by Nina Lanctot, a Yoga session with Jennifer Adams, a Zumba dance off with Gloria the grandma, a Huss architecture overview with Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, and a session on how to make your own cleaning and personal care products with Peggy Deames.
Kids’ Activities: A perennial favorite, our neighbor David Harmon was back with his much-loved train rides for the kids, which happened until it was simply too hot to sit on the plastic seats any longer. Our face painters were busy throughout the day, and the kinds of monsters and superheroes and dazzling divas coming out of that room made the festival feel both international and exotic. Adults and kids enjoyed our space-themed photo booth and there were some great sessions happening throughout the day, with kids rocketing into outer space, aliens invading, and even a mysterious space dwarf appearance.
Bench Ceremony: Peggy Deames from Love Your Mother was kind enough to donate a bench made from recycled milk jugs to the Huss Project, and during the commemoration of that bench, Elisabeth Wenger, who also helmed our Farmer’s Market tent the entire day, read a beautiful poem that managed to encapsulate the spirit of Huss and the act of sitting on a bench in the same few stanzas.
Volunteers: We could not have made the day run nearly as smoothly as it did without the many volunteers involved with Future Fest 2013. Much love and thanks to Dawn and Rick, Duke and Beverly, Stephanie and Chad, Elisabeth, Jennifer, Nina, Michelle, Johnny, Raina and Riana, Aaron, Desiree and Dorian, Matt, Lisa and Madeline, Sandy, Barb, and everyone else who carried a chair, snapped a photo, or even fell asleep on a couch. You made the day happen and you made it great (and expect to hear from us next year…).