Friday, August 23, 2013

Special Woodstock, Special Day

Dateline August 1969. It was the time of hippies and peace marches and civil rights demonstrations.   I had graduated from highschool, worked in a bank for a year or more, and was about to head off to Europe with my best friend. The news was full of the colour and controversy of Woodstock, a three day "Peace and Music" festival which (according to Wikipedia) was expected to attract about 50,000 mostly young people, but attracted over 400,000.  In the end, it lasted four days, wasn't held at Woodstock but on a farm about 40 miles away, and entertained the world with journalistic images and reports of pot-smoking, rock music, muddy fields, raining days, a lack of facilities, and many, many hippies sharing a very good time.  I was jealous and wanted to be there.

Dateline August 2013.  Providence Farm, North Cowichan. It is the fourteenth gathering of  Special Woodstock, a music festival for those with special needs, their caregivers, and their friends, family and supporters.  I am sitting on a grassy field on a comfortably warm sunny day, surrounded by hundreds of people enjoying music on two stages.

Crowds begin to gather for
Special Woodstock 2013

The smell of fries and cotton candy, of hamburgers and coffee fills the air.  Children run around, laughing happily.  Jugglers, giant puppets, and cartoon characters roam the grounds.  Pet therapy dogs walk among us, being greeted by some of the familiar faces they see in the course of their work. Booths are set up where people can make musical instuments for the "Raggedy Band Parade", get their faces painted, try their voice at Karaoke, or decorate cupcakes  The grounds are a delight of gardens full of flowers and fruits and vegetables, and even the most simple buildings exude a charm that makes one smile.  I am excited to be here with my friends Dea and Tobius.

Stilt-walking juggler adds colour and brings smiles
to the crowd. 

Penny Wise, the Island Savings mascot,
wanders through the crowds.
St John's Pet Therapy Program
brings its canine cohort to collect some cuddles.
Wonderful artwork on an old outbuilding
My favourite outbuilding - few animals make me
smile more than donkeys and pigs!
Two children explore a quiet corner
of the Providence Farm gardens

It is a familiar setting for Dea, who participates in equestrian therapy at Providence Farm, and for many others present.  Providence Farm is a working organic farm,  a therapeutic community which is, according to its website,  
...dedicated to restoring the spirit and skills of those with physical, mental and emotional challenges.....  We believe that caring for the land together is, by nature, healing and therapeutic.  Take a deep breath and you’ll find the air is healthy;  the work, worthy; the place, happy. (
And it is certainly a happy place this fine August day.

Entertainer Rick Scott dances with the audience

Even the dogs are mesmerized by the music

Entertainers and audience members
of many abilities

I first met Dea about three years ago - she and her caregiver, Tobius,  live near me and I occasionally drive them to events and activities.  She is a quiet, shy woman whose smile lights up her whole face.  Last weekend nothing delighted her more than when performer extraordinaire Rick Scott, who comes off the stage to engage with the audience face to face, came over to sing with her.  These photos (used with permission of her caregiver) say it all:

Rick Scott on dulcimer
sings with audience member Dea
High five!
No caption needed - this says it all!

A smile that lights up my world. 

It was a very Special Woodstock.  It was a very special day. Thanks for letting me tag along, Dea and Tobius.

Postscript: A conversation with my dog

Eddie:  Mom?  It's a special day tomorrow too, right?
Me:  Yes, Eddie, tomorrow is a very special day.
Eddie:  Can I tell your readers why it is so special?
Me:  Let's save that for tomorrow, Eddie.  We'll blog about it then.  Today's blog is for Dea.
Eddie:  Aww....  well, okay.  But come back tomorrow, y'all!


1 comment:

Caroline said...

I could almost feel the infectious spirit of sheer happiness jump out of the pictures!
What an amazing event!