Solutionary Health Festival Comes to Oscar Scherer Park

Arts & Culture


Arriving on the heels of one of the year’s most indulgent holiday feasts, the Solutionary Health Festival comes to Oscar Scherer Park this Saturday for a celebration of healthy living. Complete with speakers, live music, healthy (but tasty!) eating and activities for kids and adults, the event seeks to unite the local health and wellness crowd, while promoting values such as vegetarianism and animal welfare. Kicking off in Oscar Scherer State Park on Nov. 25 at 11am, the event is free, but parking is $4 per individual or $5 per car with multiple passengers. Proceeds go towards the park.

The festival marks the first time the Solutionary Events team, which has organized themed festivals throughout Florida, makes a stop in the immediate Sarasota area. Tailored to the interests of the population, a recent festival in Orlando focused on peace, but saw in Sarasota a real emphasis on holistic nutrition and fitness. “This community seems to have a big focus on health,” says festival organizer Jenna Bardroff, and so the festival will as well.

Vegetarianism and veganism play a large role in the day’s activities. It’s “definitely” part of the mission, says Bardroff. “We’re looking at the full solution,” she says, “in terms of community health, social health, physical health and mental and emotional health.” And “at the heart” of this is a plant-based diet. The goal for Solutionary Events is to promote small solutions to tackle big problem—simple ways that the everyday citizen can make an impact without strictly becoming an activist or political actor. Veganism, says Bardroff, affect a lot of those problems, referencing not only human health but animal welfare.

To that end, early in the day sees the arrival of Veg Speed Dating (or Meeting), hosted by celebrated vegan Ellen Jaffe Jones, author of Vegan Sex. Designed to be inclusive, not exclusive, participants don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to join in the fun. “We just ask that everyone be respectful and open-minded,” says Bardroff. After getting to know each other, the festival begins in earnest, with speakers such as Cam Awesome, a vegan heavyweight National boxer, talking about fighting stereotypes and bodybuilder Geoff Palmer getting in to the nitty-gritty of plant-based nutrition.

Emcee for the day will be special guest VeganEvan, a seven-year-old rapper and comedian who travels the world talking about veganism.

Not just about words, activities abound at the festival, with vendors such as Sarasota’s own Ray’s Vegan Soul offering vegan treats to keep energy up in between mini-concerts, dance performances from Dynasty Dance Clubs and an all-day scavenger hunt. Kids will find plenty to do as well, between workshops on making edible and eco-friendly paint (which they can then make at home too), fun classes about physiology as it relates to health and activities to promote respect and care for animals. Rock-climbing and trampolines provide fun for all ages.

The Solutionary Health Festival begins at 11am at Oscar Scherer State Park this Saturday, Nov. 25, and runs through 5pm.

Pictured: Festival-goers at this year's Solutionary Peace Walk and Festival in June. Photo courtesy of Solutionary Events.

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