Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wellness fest enlightens with big crowds

Festival presented three days of events and activities

Express Staff Writer

Singer and songwriter Toni Childs’ grand vocals brought Sun Valley Wellness Festival participants to their feet at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Photo by Sabina Dana Plasse

The Sun Valley Wellness Festival celebrated its 12th year with a large turnout. The number of tickets sold and the dollar amount increased from last year, said Sun Valley Event's organizer Heather LaMonica Deckard.

The organizers did not provide attendance numbers or ticket sale figures.

"This year is by far the biggest jump ever seen," Deckard said. "People are already making plans for next year."

Keynote speakers Robert Thurman and Michael Beckwith set the tone for the festival on Friday with a lively and entertaining conversation about spirituality, meditation, self-esteem and present-day living perspectives in front of a packed audience at the Sun Valley Inn's Limelight Room.

The festival continued throughout the weekend and ended Monday. Many festival participants crowded the Exhibition and Hands On Halls, which featured clothing, jewelry, wellness programs, amethyst blankets and much more. The Hands On Hall had several waiting lists for Thai massages, Ketchum's Café of Life Chiropractic sessions and the Warm Fuzzy Center, which featured animal communications for live or passed animals.

Talks and workshops were well attended, including a full house at the Sawtooth Room, which featured Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who talked about his history with panic attacks and how he overcame them through meditation. Rinpoche led several mediations throughout his entertaining and engaging talk. In addition, the Ram Room, the movement studio for the festival, was busy throughout the weekend with classes that included Gillian Wynn's Yin Yoga class, which ended up going for two hours.

The highlight to the festival was a performance by Toni Childs at the Sun Valley Pavilion on Sunday. Childs engaged a large audience with new and old songs and talked about her experience with Graves' disease. She was joined by a five-member band that rocked out the pavilion with big sound.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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