|STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK|
It’s involved weeks, even months, of retooling—right down to this past week.
But on Monday the organizers of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference announced that they have come up with a plan to hold this year’s event in a format that will be safe for speakers and audience.
After all, organizers noted, people need wellness information now more than ever.
The 23rd annual festival and conference will be held Friday through Aug. 21-24 at the Argyros Performing Arts Center and Ketchum’s Forest Service Park. Passholders will also have the option of a “Virtual Festival Experience.”
As planned, when the conference was originally scheduled this June, sleep expert Matthew Walker will be the keynote speaker, augmented by Dr. Zach Bush, Nora McInerny, Dr. Eben Alexander and others. And, yes, they will be here in person.
“It’s a surreal time for our world and if ever there was a time for wellness, it’s now,” said Andria Friesen, board president of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference, the longest running wellness festival in the world. “We have worked diligently to produce our 2020 Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference with highly relevant content and options to experience the event that will meet a multitude of comfort levels.”
Passes are on sale at www.sunvalleywellness.org. They include limited numbers of an All Access Festival Pass and Festival Pass, as well as unlimited numbers of Virtual Festival Experience passes.
Friesen says the roster of speakers is unprecedented, and many will pivot their presentation to address the pandemic crisis.
“The diverse subject matters our speakers will cover on the wellness pillars of mind, body, spirit and environment is progressive and involves the latest research in such areas as Alzheimer’s prevention, depression, heart disease, cancer and neuroscience,” she said.
The conference will feature more than 30 presentations, workshops and movement classes. Presentations taking place at The Argyros will involve socially distanced seating, and The Argyros will sanitize high-touch surfaces multiple times an hour.
It didn’t hurt, organizers noted, that The Argyros staff helped draft national guidelines for the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide.
Free movement classes and wellness vendors will be featured in the new outdoor SVWFC Experience Park in Forest Service Park, a block away from The Argyros. It, too, will have COVID-19 protocols in place.
Nature walks and other outdoor activities will be announced later.
Friesen said the SVWFC will continue to monitor the COVID situation and make further event adaptations, as needed, including transitioning to a virtual-only event if warranted.
But, she added, SVWFC is uniquely positioned as in its ability to significantly reduce the number of seats indoors to allow six-foot distancing. And live streaming and online content will allow the festival to reach a much larger audience with its speakers, who are in demand worldwide.
- Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California-Berkeley. He will address how sleep affects human health and disease, including the coronavirus. His New York Times best-selling book “Why We Sleep” provides a prescription for sleep and explains how sleep can slow the effects of aging and prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s obesity and diabetes. His TED Talk was one of the five most viewed in 2019.
- Dr. Zach Bush, a physician who has been referred to as the “Einstein of medicine” and who has become a respected voice on COVID-19
- Nora McInerny, a grief expert and best-selling author and host of “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” podcast. Her TED Talk was also one of the top five most viewed in 2019
- Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon whose near-death experience is recounted in “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife”
- Austyn Wells, a spiritual medium and “soul gardener”
- David Pond, nationally recognized astrologer and author
- Karen Newell, innovator in the field of brainwave entrainment audio meditation
- Albert Flynn DeSilver, a Master Mindfulness Meditation teacher.
Movement classes will be taught by conscious consultant and yoga instructor Jenn Perell Bush, energy medicine practitioner Erica Linson, exercise physiologist and yoga teacher Brenda Powell, and yoga instructor Katherine Pleasants.
An All-Access Festival Pass, which costs $950, includes reserved seating for speakers, admission to all movement classes and workshops, of which there will be several, and access to virtual SVWFC-plus content access for 30 days.
The Festival Pass, which costs $475, includes priority admission to keynote and featured speakers, daytime presentations and admission to movement as well as virtual content. It does not include access to workshops.
The Virtual Festival Experience Pass costs $175. Virtual attendees will receive an account enabling them to stream all speakers’ events or watch the content for 30 days following the event. Physical passholders will receive a 30-day link, as well.
Individual tickets for speaker presentations may be offered closer to the event.
The Experience Park will provide ongoing free outdoor yoga and movement classes, music and a variety of curated vendors selling wellness products, services and healthy food. It will be free to the public Friday through Sunday.
Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel, the festival headquarters, is offering special lodging rates and a 20 percent discount on festival passes with lodging reservation.
Sponsors include “Spirituality & Health,” Limelight Hotel, Wild Tonic, Blue Farm Wines, Friesen Gallery and Rising Springs.