Be Kind Festival to share music, fun and happiness in Schouler Park

Free hugs, live music, a drumming circle, stories of kindness, and lots of activities for children and adults are on tap for the Be Kind Festival in Schouler Park on Friday evening, June 5 and all day Saturday, June 6. The annual event is a fundraiser for Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice, a local non-profit agency, in support of their services and programs.

The free festival kicks off on Friday evening at 6:45pm with Marci Starr Brennan of Crystal Clear Vibrations setting the mood with her “singing” healing bowls. Additional music will be provided by the Mountain Aire Strings, followed by the reading of kindness stories and a Candles of Hope ceremony. At 8pm, participants are invited to add their candles to a lighted labyrinth in the park.

Saturday activities begin at 11am with a Kindness Rally and opening of the exhibitor tents. The public is invited to try yoga or Tai Chi, spin the Kindness Wheel created by the K.A. Brett School in Tamworth, and take part in health and wellness screenings. The Children’s Corner will include face painting and other fun activities. Raffle tickets will be on sale for a Polar Express Package that includes four tickets and overnight accommodations at the Hampton Inn in North Conway. Visitors can sample locally sourced food from Slow Food Saco Valley and Flatbread Pizza, learn more about local non-profit organizations and enjoy other kindness related products.

A variety of programs start at noon on the stage, beginning with the Kennett High School Dance Group, Tin Mountain Conservation Center and, at 2pm, the Kind Folk with Irish-inspired folk music. From 2 to 4pm, the amazing Michael Wingfield creates a drumming circle that all are invited to take part in.

The music continues with popular local duo Bennett and Perkins at 6:15pm, joined by fellow musician Taylor Whiteside. The winner of the Polar Express Raffle Prize will be drawn shortly before 7:30pm, when the Wicked Smart Horn Band kicks it into gear. The band plays until 9:30pm and participants are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy all of the evening on stage performances.

The Be Kind Festival has evolved during its history and shared much with the community through music, acts of kindness and the promotion of health and wellness. The iconic “Be Kind” bumper stickers have been spotted on cars from many states around the country.

Sandy Ruka, RN MSN, director of Visiting Nurses, is appreciative of all of the local businesses and individuals who are part of the annual fundraiser. “We are so grateful to everyone who has joined us on our journey of kindness,” Ruka said. “Our staff and volunteers are totally energized by the opportunity to share these good feelings with our community.”

Returning again this year as presenting sponsor is Memorial Hospital. The drumming circle is sponsored by Settlers Green. Additional support was received from White Mountain Oil & Propane, Hampton Inn, Mt. Washington Auto Road, Merrill Lynch, Story Land, North Country Dental and Crest Auto World. Media sponsors include the Conway Daily Sun and radio station WMWV 93.5FM which will be broadcasting live on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.

All festival events are free and open to the public. In the event of rain, stage concerts will be held at Theatre in the Wood in Intervale. A complete schedule and other festival information can be found at the VNHCH website, http://www.VNHCH.org, or by calling 1-800-499-4171.

PHOTO:  The Wicked Smart Horn Band takes center stage at this year’s Be Kind Festival for a free Saturday concert starting at 7:30pm. Bennett and Perkins, with fellow musician Taylor Whiteside, open for the band at 6:15pm. The annual Be Kind Festival, a fundraiser for Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice, takes place June 5 and 6 in Schouler Park, North Conway Village.

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