Find your way back to nature next weekend at the second annual Sweetgrass Flute & Nature Festival, which brought approximately 1000 people to Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center last year for a weekend of music, healing and relaxation. “Last year the festival was magnificent,” said Rodney Bluml, program coordinator and spiritual director at Prairiewoods.
“A lot of our mission revolves around creating opportunities for people to engage the divine presence through creation and nature,” he said.
The festival, he continued, “lifts up the land and brings together a community of people who want to be soothed and healed.”
This year, he expects the festival on Sept. 23-25 will bring even more people, as they’ve dropped the entry fee from $5 per person to free with help of sponsors, a silent auction and leftover earnings from last year.
“We want more people to be able to come out and experience this. There’s very few festivals geared toward this kind of music and culture, especially in Iowa or the Midwest,” said Jonny Lipford, an organizer of the event and professional Native American flute player.
Lipford will be one of four headliners this year, in addition to Randy Granger of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Rona Yellow Robe of Seattle, Washington and Scott August of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Other artists include Adam Hawkins of Cleveland, Ohio, the Iowa City Drummers, K.C. Kraudy of Mindoro, Wisconsin and Marsha Harris of Morehead City, North Carolina.
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Festivalgoers can expect to hear from a variety of instruments including flutes, dulcimers, drums and the didgeridoo.
A number of workshops will be offered throughout the weekend, including musical training, yoga, tai chi, mandala drawing, dream catcher making, meditation and more.
Vendors will be selling holistic merchandise and services, musical instruments, gifts, clothing, and books. The Hungry Rooster and Culata International Cuisine will serve food. People are welcome to bring blankets, chairs and their furry friends — the festival is family- and pet-friendly, Bluml said.
Lois Ocenosak, a Sweetgrass core team member, described the festival as “refreshing.” She hadn’t heard or played the Native American flute before attending last year’s festival, but after attending flute school — a three-day workshop held before the festival — and the festival itself, she now regularly plays the flute to relax.
“Playing the Native American flute is like an extension of my spirit,” she said. “It relaxes me and connects me to the creative spirit within me.”
“In our busy day to day life, we forget to unplug and connect,” Lipford said. “This is a great time that people can come out and experience something different, experience the sound of the land and get back to nature.”