Bless The Woods music festival back for a seventh year
FAIRPLAY — There’s a lot of love in a festival to fight what can be a hateful disease this weekend as the seventh annual Bless The Woods Music Festival, which raises money to combat Lyme disease, takes place.
The event kicks off at noon Thursday, June 7, and runs through Monday, June 11, at the Woodmen of the World campground in Fairplay.
“(We have) lots of vendors and we have, of course, live music for three days,” said Mike Glenn of Waynesboro, Pa., general manager for the event.
Bless The Woods becomes more family-friendly this year with the addition of a Kid’s Area for families. The cost to participate is $5 per day.
“We have kid’s activities and workshops, we’ll be doing so tie-dying, stuff like that,” Glenn said.
Glenn said his involvement in the festival has grown over the years.
“I started coming to the festival six years ago, and just kind of fell in love and just kind of (took) on more responsibilities each year,” he said.
Organizer Pat Scherer, also of Waynesboro, said his role took off in a similar way.
“Year one when our friends started it, they needed some volunteers and a bunch of us jumped on board and we’ve just been growing with it for the six years now, well this will be seven years. Just kind of taking on more work as we go,” Scherer said.
Scherer said the event has grown beyond a festival.
“The love that you’re gonna feel, the community that’s being built ... a lot of people say it’s not a festival anymore, it’s a family reunion, we all get together every year and have a festival instead of a cookout at a park. All of us have gotten really close, even the patrons that come, they know most of us, and we involve them, so it’s just a great thing to be a part of, I think.”
Beyond the love, proceeds from the festival raise money and awareness for Lyme disease, which is caused by bites from an infected black-legged or deer tick.
“I think for us personally, all of us have been touched by (Lyme disease) that are a part of Bless The Woods. And you’re kind of hard-pressed to find somebody that hasn’t been. It’s really a devastating disease. If you don’t take care of it and not more research is done about it. The founder of the Bless The Woods, Sam (McJonathan), his mother actually passed away from it, which is where he got the idea to start the event,” Scherer said.
Adrian Van Keuren who lives near Winchester, Va., is a representative for Bless The Woods.
“We talk about Lyme, and I do the same thing in my area support group,” said Van Keuren, who has Lyme disease.
“It is an incredible group of people coming together for a great cause, and it’s something that is really great for those of us in the Lyme community. It’s much more common for our families to not believe that we’re sick, we don’t get a lot of support, we don’t get a lot of help. These guys have stepped up to put this event together, to support the Lyme community. It’s incredible. And it’s something everyone in the Lyme community is grateful for,” Van Keuren said of Bless the Woods.
Van Keuren said that to date, Bless the Woods has raised about $2,500 for Lyme disease research, including a $1,000 donation in 2017.
“We do not have a set (fundraising) goal, it’s basically we’re happy with anything we can raise. And to me, the real magic of it is, last year we had some of the bands that played at the event donate their entire fee for being there to us. I think that’s incredibly cool,” she said.
As many as 700 people are expected at the festival, many of whom will camp for the weekend.
Participating musical acts include The Elovaters, El Dub Music, Elusive Groove, Cheezy and the Crackers, Nappy Riddem, Retro/Ricole and daMOOD, SoPoz, Secondhand, Suga Grits, Squaring The Circle x2, The Vibesmen, Higher Education, The Slim Jimmies, Mudcracker, The Ellameno Beat, Invikta, The Phryg and Ethan Larsh.
Also, 15 vendors are lined up for attendees shopping and culinary pleasure.
“There’s gonna be food, tie-dye, handmade jewelry, some handmade glass, all kinds of things to check out. And the food is great here,” Scherer said.
Scherer said anyone is welcome at the festival, which is held rain or shine.
“Honestly ... there’s a lot of love here and that’s what I hear from a lot of our people that come, that’s the love that you feel and the atmosphere that’s here and it’s just good vibes and great spirit here,” she said. “I hope more of you guys come out. I look forward to hanging out in the woods with you guys.”