CONWAY — Joining forces this weekend to present the first White Mountains Outdoor, Health and Wellness Fest are the White Mountains Community College and the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.
They explained how events will be centered in Vendor Square in North Conway’s Schouler Park.
Scheduled for today and Sunday, the festival will include a “Kicking Asphalt Fun Run as well as yoga, fly-casting, bike tours, guided hikes, dog training demonstration, wilderness medicine demos, dance and martial arts demos, guided history walk to a lost logging town and more. Hours for today’s Vendor Square events are 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
MWV Chamber Assistant Director Michelle Cruz and Denise Feil, outreach coordinator of WMCC’s North Conway Academic Center are the driving forces behind the festival.
More than 70 vendors are registered, according to Cruz and Feil.
Among them is Memorial Hospital, which will be on hand Saturday in Vendor Square to hold a small vaccination clinic. “The hospital wants to make sure everyone has access to COVID-19 vaccinations,” Cruz explained.
Another vendor will be Anjali Rose, a local yoga instructor who teaches yoga Sundays at 9 a.m. at the gazebo between the New England Ski Museum’s Eastern Slope Branch ad the North Conway Community Center as well as Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the Dot Seybold Labrynth at Settlers Streetside.
“I think this will be a wonderful community event to celebrate wellness and health,” said Rose. Asked about the benefits of yoga, she said that it “increases mobility and flexibility and helps to reduce stress while also helping heart health and reduce cholesterol. “We’ll have a clinic to show people the benefits of yoga,” said Rose.
Cruz and Feil said Sunday is a day of guided events with Redline Guiding organizing guided hiking trips.
A full schedule is below and at whitemountainsfest.org. Space for the tours Sunday is limited. Go to the website for information on how to register.
“It’s going to be busy in the park,” said Cruz, noting that the festival’s roots began last year with a White Mountains Outdoor Fest that got canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feil says White Mountains Community College was seeking a way to get the word out to the public about the local college and all of the programs it offers, including yoga, massage therapy, environmental sciences, conservation law, resort and recreation management and health and wellness.
“So, I thought, why not collaborate?” said Cruz.
“We came together in January and began working on this. We have had great responses from vendors,” said Feil, a resident of the valley since 2002.
Another goal of the weekend festival is educating visitors on outdoor etiquette and environmental awareness through programs such as “Leave No Trace,” to be taught by Mike Cherim of Redline Guides of Intervale.
“I think it’s key to get the word out about ‘Leave No Trace,’ which we will be covering as part of our presentation Saturday,’ said Cherim, whose company will be leading hike on Sunday.
Components of “Leave No Trace” include: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of fellow visitors.
That last item cannot be stated enough, Cherim and others note, given the increase of visitors last summer.
“Hiking and enjoying our natural spaces is a need for many ... however, it’s critical that people treat each other with kindness and respect; with empathy and consideration and with the environment and impact on it in mind at all times,” Cherim shared from an article he wrote for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Journal publication last year.
Janice Crawford, the chamber’s executive director, was part of the marketing group that developed the state’s “Don’t Take New Hampshire for Granite”educational marketing program, which was formulated this past year by tourism and outdoor groups due to increased demand to hiking and camping resources in the White Mountains.
Instead of “increased demand,” some would term the crush of first-time visitors as an “onslaught” and towns like Conway and Jackson have taken steps this summer to institute parking fees or passes at recreational spots as a way to control the rise in visitors.
“People were looking for a place to go,” said Cruz. “The committee that was working on the original Outdoor Fest event got together and said we don’t need to do more marketing; what we need to do is educate visitors.”
They then teamed up with the college to create this weekend’s package of demos and events. Cruz and Feil said several non-profits will be on hand to share information. A percentage of proceeds from Saturday’s “Kickin’ Asphalt” road race presented by Rockhopper Races will benefit the Mount Washington Observatory, which is holding its Seek the Peak event at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road at Great Glen Trails today.
“We are glad we are able to do this,” said Cruz. “It’s all about celebrating our community and our natural resources and educating everyone about wellness and proper use of our natural amenities.”
She added that activities such as gardening, playing music and craft building are other ways to increase wellness along with yoga and hiking.
Feil said one goal is to get the word out about the North Conway Academic Center/White Mountains Community College. WMCC has three campuses — in Berlin, Littleton and North Conway — and is one of seven colleges in the Community College System of New Hampshire.
The college offers associate’s degrees and certificate programs, plus training options, preparing students for 21st century job opportunities as well as transfer pathways to four-year colleges and universities.
Feil said WMCC is fully accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
“Our courses are the most affordable in New Hampshire and its Academic Centers in Littleton and North Conway make them accessible to all students in the North Country Region,” she said.
All of the programs fall within a broad academic focus area such as business, health care and STEM, enabling students to try an area of interest. Day, evening and online courses are available.
WMCC courses transfer to four-year colleges and universities in New Hampshire and across the country.
Presenting sponsors for the weekend are the MWV Chamber of Commerce and WMCC. Sponsors include Memorial Hospital/MaineHealth; Chalmers Insurance Group, representing the Patriot Insurance Co.; Subaru; Settlers Green; The Conway Daily Sun; Mount Washington Radio Group (WMWV 93.5-FM, Magic 104-FM and Easy Listening 95.3-FM); White Mountains TV; Eversource; Eastern Propane; and the Valley Originals Independent Restaurants.
Supporting sponsors for Vendor Square include Saco Valley Medical Group and SOLO (Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities).
Vendor Square vendors in Schouler Park Saturday include: Hill Country Guides, Anjali Rose, Cheryl Gearin Drops4Wellness, Conway Public Library, Cranmore Mountain Resort, Discover Health, Eiligh Orff, Errol Smith, SOLO, Saco River Medical Group, Granite Backcountry Alliance, Granite Outdoor Alliance, Jeanne Limmer Dance Company, Jeff Swayze, Journey Church, Juile Sargent’s Healing Dimensions, Kiwanis Club, Kristina Folcik/Rockhopper Races, Little Angel Service Dogs, McSherry’s Nursery, Memorial Hospital/MaineHealth, Mountain Center Physical Therapy, Mt. Washington Radio Group, Mt. Washington Valley Rec Path, MWV Adult Day Center, MWV Bicycling Club, Outdoor Escapes NH and Profile Subaru.
Also, Ragged Mountain Equipment Inc., Ripl Adventures/Chelsea Latham, Skinny Towel, Sup (Stand-Up) Yo (Yoga) Adventures, Swift River Ghillie. Vaughn Center North Conway, Zenergie Yoga, Mt. Washington Aikido, White Mountain Health Center, Loon’s Point Honey Bees, North Country Dental, NCD Skin, Happy Pants, Arbonne Healthy Living, Stonehill Lavender, Epilepsy Foundation New England, Lebue Soap LLC, OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), Trails End Ice Cream, Jewell Box Co., Walmart Vision Center, One Earth Body Care, P’nina Kaplan Creative Arts, Jessica’s Pamper Products, Habits of Health Weight Loss, Center for Natural Health, Mountain Kula Yoga, Northern Human Services, The Farm Stand, Sand Dollar Foundation, Donna Cormier Massage Therapy and Redline Guiding.
The schedule for White Mountains Fest (subject to change) is as follows:
Saturday, July 17
Kickin’ Asphalt 5/10K organized by Rockhopper Races starts at 9:30 a.m. The race starts and finishes in Schouler Park. The Toddler Dash is at 9:45 a.m. For details go to rockhopperraces.com/kickin-asphalt-5k-10k.
Vendor Square in Schouler Park runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Demos, speakers, yoga in the park, music, food and more. For more, go to wmcc.edu/vendor-square-schedule. Cruz said demo areas will be set up at the north and south ends of the park.
• Discover Your Bliss yoga demo, Anjali Rose, 10-10:25 a.m.
• Hiking survival skills, Outdoor Escapes NH, 10:30-10:55 a.m.
• Movement Exploration Opportunity, Jeanne Limmer Dance and MWV Adult Day Center, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
• Pet CPR and First Aid, WMCC Vet Assistant Program, 11-11:20 a.m.
• Service dog training demo, Little Angels Service Dogs, 11:25 a.m.-noon.
• The Aging Runner, Rockhopper Races, noon-12:25 p.m.
• Stop the Bleed, SOLO Wilderness Training, 12:30-1 p.m.
• Fly-casting demo, Swift River Ghillie, 1:05-1:30 p.m.
• Leave No Trace, Redline Guiding, 1:30-1:50 p.m.
• Improve strength, balance and movement, Discover Health Functional Medicine Center, 1:45-2:25 p.m.
• Service dog training demo, Little Angels Service Dogs, 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m.
• Pet CPR and First Aid, WMCC Vet Assistant Program, 3-3:25 p.m.
• Health & Exercise through Martial Arts, Mt. Washington Aikido Martial Arts, 3:15-3:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 18
• Half-Day Hike organized by Redline Guiding.
Location: 14 Intervale Lane, Intervale. This will be a moderately paced three- to four-hour hike on typically rugged White Mountains trails.
The exact location is to be determined on hike day. Expect hike distances of 3-5 miles with 800-1,500 feet of elevation gain. These are approximations only as factors such as group, location, and weather may all play a role in the final determination.
To sign up, go to redlineguiding.com/book-now.
For more information about hiking with Redline Guiding, what to wear, necessary gear, and more, go to redlineguiding.com/adventures/hiking/
• Full Day Hike organized by Redline Guiding. Location: 14 Intervale Lane, Intervale.
This will be a moderately paced 6-8-hour hike on typically rugged White Mountains trails. The exact location is to be determined on hike day. Expect hike distances of 6-10 miles with 1,600-3,000 feet of elevation gain. These are approximations only as factors such as group, location, and weather may all play a role in the final determination. To sign up, go to redlineguiding.com/book-now.
• Guided tours of Historical Livermore organized by Ragged Mountain Equipment. Discover the remains of the former logging community of Livermore. Learn about Livermore’s heyday and its significance in logging history when it was part of the timber boom than changed the scenery and life of the White Mountains from 1880 to the 1920s. For details and to sign up, go to mtwashingtonvalley.org.
• Guided bike rides organized by Mount Washington Valley Bicycling Club. Join members of the MWV Bicycling Club on one of the three scenic guided rides through Fryeburg, Maine. For details and descriptions about each ride, go to ridewithgps.com/events/151896-white-mountains-outdoor-health-and-wellness.
• Yoga at the Gazebo at North Conway Community Center organized by Anjali Rose. Get ready to be outside, enjoy the fresh air and reconnect with each other.
For details and to sign up, go to anjali-rose.com/yoga#sunday-outdoor-yoga.
• Stand-up Paddle Board Yoga and Adventure Paddle organized by Ripl Adventures. Join Chellsey Lathan for a session in SUP (stand-up paddle board) Yoga or an Advenutre Paddle. Space is limited. For details and to sign up, go to vagaro.com/ripladventures/classes.