Kincardine’s annual Yoga-Fest, hosted by Darrel Perry of Penetangear and Eric Cunliffe of Shakti Rhythm Yoga, went forward this year despite COVID-19. This was Kincardine’s first organized event to be approved since covid.
Cunliffe is grateful for all of the support from Perry. “Darrel is the main guy behind the scenes, he organizes most of the event, takes all the registration and works with the necessary parties to get the festival up and running and to see it through,” he said. “Most of my job is the yoga and events themselves. Without him, this festival would not exist and he knows how to work with people and make everything run smoothly.”
The festival faced extra challenges this year due to the global pandemic, “it was a surprise and an honour that we were able to be the first festival of 2020,” said Cunliffe.
Organizing these sorts of events always bring unseen challenges, but this year had every aspect needing to be questioned, said Cunliffe. The pair were required to be approved through the municipality as well as the Grey/Bruce Health Unit to ensure safety of all attendees.
This year’s numbers impressed Cunliffe with everything considered. Without some of the tourist traffic the events numbers were down about 15-25%. Some of the extra hurdles were the uncertainty of running and shorter times to promote.
“It really did not make any difference in the passion and enthusiasm of our attendees,” he said. “Our morning pier classes remained our hottest events but we saw a great turnout for both the SUP yoga with our sponsor SurfsUP and our sunset yoga class on Saturday night.”
The events offered this past weekend included meditation on Friday night.
“While meditating in public in the early evening sun on the pier poses some logistical challenges, we saw a great turnout and fabulous response as we continue to grow this festival of physical and mental health and wellbeing as well as foster a true appreciation of the pure beauty that is our natural landscape,” said Cunliffe.
Also on Friday night was stand up paddle-board (SUP) yoga with sponsor SurfsUp.
“Pure play time for adults who want to be kids for 90 minutes,” he describes the event as.
On Saturday morning Renee Meloche of Shakti Rhythm led a gentle yoga class on the North pier, followed by an intermediate yoga class let by Cunliffe at the same location.
“Each Pier class is always concluded with an optional pier jump for those needing a little extra fun as well as a cool down,” he said.
Sunday’s yoga event was cancelled due to weather.
The event required plenty of precautions as the duo were working closely with the Grey/Bruce Health Unit. Procedures were as follows: mandatory masks/face coverings until each participant was settled on their mats, sanitizer stations being available, waivers and a prescreening. The municipality also granted full access of the North pier to ensure they were the only occupants during all event times. Finally, each mat was situated just beyond the recommended social distancing measurements.
This event has several positive impacts for the community. First and foremost, it is an open event in which any and all people of any background, belief or culture are welcome to attend.
“It must and will always be inclusive; participation in all events is donation based and any amount is gratefully accepted, allowing individuals of all incomes to attend,” said Cunliffe.
One hundred percent of the proceeds each year go to a local charity. In the past they have allocated the event’s donations to the Women’s House and the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“This year we felt it was important to donate to the Kincardine Hospital Foundation to show our immense support and gratitude to our local hospital staff,” he explained.
This event is for the people of Kincardine and surrounding residents to deepen their own appreciation of the natural beauty of Lake Huron and support a healthy lifestyle.
“It has been a profound honour to serve this community where I grew up and give back the best way we know how. Thank you to all the attendees, volunteers and to Mr. Darrel Perry,” said Cunliffe.
“We wish to thank the residents of and visitors to Kincardine and the surrounding areas for their support of all of our local businesses,” they said. “These are challenging times and, without your support, we would cease to exist. Shakti Rhythm Yoga’s dream to bring health and wellness to our area, as well as the ambitions of all of Kincardine’s small business owners, is alive because of your generosity and passion.”