I have been attending the LEAF Festival in Black Mountain, North Carolina since the early 2000's when I was a University of Central Florida college student.
I earned my ticket as a volunteer working the breakfast shift in the kitchen. It would still be dark & cold on those Spring and Fall mountain mornings when I would slip out of my tent and trek down the mountain for my early morning shift. Being apart of the heartbeat of the festival (the kitchen) made me truly a part of something right from the beginning.
As the years went on, I moved up to Asheville from Orlando having fallen in love with this part of the country and its magic mountains. I've attended the festival as a performer, as a photographer, and as a social media intern... Always volunteering or offering FestivalNet promotions in trade over the many years.
I've been going for almost 20+ years now and my now 11 year old daughter is 'raised on LEAF'... lucky her. It's a very special festival.
LEAF Festival happens twice a year, mid-May and mid-October for a long weekend of music from all over the globe on several stages, kids activities galore including a beautiful beach and safe swim space on Lake Eden, diving, boating, zip lining... Fine Art and Handiworks from folkart to metal work, handmade drums & didgeridoos, and lovely things you don't see at every festival... elf ears and wands with fairy dust, massage therapists that walk on your back, CBD chocolates and Elderberry Syrup, tie dye and batiks, leather works, unique handmade jewelry and hearty but whimsical ceramic and wood-works.
There are opening and closing ceremonies, there's camping, there's yoga and healing arts workshops, contra dancing, and an all-night drum circle far enough away that it can lull you to sleep if you're not camping too close! The music is straight up GLOBAL, you will discover sounds you've never heard before at LEAF. There's funk, folk-grass, & far-out... there's eclectic, and deep-from-the-earth sounds. There's music that brings you closer to your heart.
Walking the vast grounds of LEAF means always hearing this music, or laughter, or children out-of-their-minds happy. You can come for a day, or for three.
And the poetry slam that packs out Eden Hall... It's something you want to go early and save a seat up close for. Just trust me on that.
Which brings me to today's quick post I had to get out there... This weekend, LEAF is going Virtual.
It's kinda emotional to think about -- but how apropos that the LEAF staff got this together like they did in light of our current circumstances.... They always find the light in the dark, always help people come together... LEAF knows the value of community.
I hope you join me at home this weekend in checking out the festival line up at VLEAF.org.
Be sure to also check out LEAF Global Arts (theleaf.org) to discover all the amazing things they do all across the world with LEAF International. It's more than a festival.
Here's a photo of my daughter and I from a LEAF a couple years ago... Upfront and center for a Lakeside Stage act. Feeling the love among people that don't judge, are there just for the freedom, the music, the good vibes that only a festival such as LEAF can give.
Thanks for reading. Hope to "see" you at VLEAF this weekend. I'll be there with bells on, or elf ears.