Hey there guys!
I hope you're all having a wonderful day today. It's raining here today in Hawaii, so I'm getting lots of computer work done 🙂
This is a random and long post that I felt compelled to write this afternoon. I'm feeling like there's been some misrepresentation of some of the Pioneers at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. So, I want to share my own personal experiences and what I have seen from my vantage point, from initially being a paid attendee and now as a presenter. I'm going to speak only of people I feel I actually know or have interacted with, so you can know that I'm talking from my actual experience with them and how I've seen them interact with others.
Some things have been said lately of the Pioneers (which I'm going to call the presenters for this post, since that's what our main contribution is for the festival), that I think are an extreme generalization.
Recently I've heard many people say that there is a separateness between the attendees and presenters. I think that this may be the case in some situations, but it's definitely not the majority. I think if you have a negative experience with one person it is easy to focus on that and forget the other positive experiences you had. It's also easy to feel hurt when you want to talk to someone and they seem like they're in a hurry. This is often because the presenters have to be early for their talks and they assist others in setting up sometimes too.
Anne Osborne and Michael Arnstein are two of the busiest people and presenters at the festival. If it seems hard to have a long conversation with them during the event, it's most likely because they are giving talks on top of running all the behind the scenes stuff for the fest. But they are both happy to help if you need anything while you're there!
Kristina is also very busy being the MC and teaching many classes during the week. I can't even tell you how many hugs I saw her give and how hard it was for me to talk to her sometimes, because she was busy talking to other guests. And if she wasn't talking with a friend, guest, or fellow presenter she was just trying to find time to eat.
Chris Kendall is one of the funniest, most hard working, down-to-earth people you will ever meet, I promise! If you need help with anything he's your go to guy 😉 Need help with your diet, he's there, need help lifting a heavy box, he's there! He's been kicking butt in the kitchen since the first festival, plus teaching yoga every day there, and doing other classes throughout the week.
Harley is very different in person from his online persona. He's calm and very polite in my opinion and he spent as much time as he could talking with guests.
Freelee I've had the chance to spend time with also and she's very sweet. I wish the situation had turned out differently and that they would both still attend. It seemed like they had a wonderful time at the festivals and maybe they will decide to come again some day.
Don Bennett and Tim Van Orden are two of the sweetest and smartest guys. They are very detailed in their research and experimentation and have lots of valuable experience to share. They're both really approachable and happy to chat so if you see them at the festival go say hi 😉
Dr. Sam is a funny and fun guy. He's really easy to talk to and has magic hands when it comes to physical therapy. He has really wonderful classes on proper form when working out and so much more.
Mike Vlasaty is incredibly nice and helpful when it comes to getting beefy on a raw vegan diet. He's always hanging around the weights ready to assist and encourage anyone who wants to play. He also has great recipes and tips in his other classes.
John Kohler may seem like he's busy with his talks and filming videos, and he is! I can assure you that even when John is on vacation he is filming videos and working. But he would be happy to help you with anything related to juicing because this really is his specialty and passion (other than gardening and getting great deals on fruit)! He's a man who's always on a mission!
Arnold, well, if you don't know Arnold then you should. He might seem crazy and weird, but I can assure you he is one of the most fun 65 year olds I've ever met. He loves hugs and is happy to spend hours and hours of his time helping others resolve their health issues. He doesn't claim to be perfect, but he always does his best!
Dr. Graham is someone who I have been slowly getting to know over the past couple years. From the first time I met him, when he didn't know who I was, until he generously hosted me for a few days at his event in Costa Rica, I've had nothing but a positive experience with him. He may seem serious to some, but I assure you he has a great sense of humor 😉
Karen Ranzi has a really warm quality about her when she speaks with you. I wish to connect with her more in the future and get to know her better, but she seems like a very open and helpful person with lots of great experience in raising children with raw food.
Ellen is also someone I've only been able to chat with briefly, but every time I have talked to her and seen her interact with others she is very sincere.
Grant is awesome! When I was in Costa Rica visiting I will never forget running on these crazy hills. One of them was too tough for me and I was slowing down. Grant came behind me and pushed on my back as we ran to help make the hill easier. So sweet! He definitely enjoys socializing at these events and has much to share with raw food and running.
You might see Dan McDonald hanging out in the kitchen a lot at the festival, and yes he is making himself juice sometimes, but honestly he's really supportive of the kitchen staff too. Making juices for everyone, giving massages, giving gratitude for the hard work and helping everyone stay motivated. He's also a very sensitive person and and seems to prefer smaller groups to large ones, so you might see him find a smaller group of people to sit and talk with at the festival.
I haven't had the opportunity to get to know Tony, Alan, and Janette, but I hope to in the future and they all seem like wonderful people.
I also hope to get to know lots of others at the festival. I feel like I've done my best to be open, honest, and available for everyone and anyone at the festival and that is all I have received from others as well.
All this being said, no one is perfect and everyone has good days and bad, so try not to be too judgmental based on a small and quick interaction. Please take the time to get to know someone and try to avoid making blanket statements about groups of people based on one incident. Also, take into consideration that some of the presenters are shy in person and may not walk up to everyone and introduce themselves immediately. I can be this way sometimes.
I also want to clarify an idea that all presenters are getting better rooms than the attendees. This is not true for most of the presenters. Two years ago I stayed in a cabin with my friends, when I was a chef and presenter. Last year I was assigned to a cabin which contained my partner Joey, Chris Kendall, Dr. Sam and his partner, Ken Love, and Ellen Livingston. This was a cabin, just like all the others, with bunks, which contained one toilet and sink, with no shower.
Tim Van Orden ended up not having a space available at all so Joey and I gave our room to Tim and paid to have our own room so we could share a bed together. So I was not given a private room. I paid for one and was happy to do so.
John Kohler had a broken arm if I remember and slept in the infirmary during the festival.
Harley and Freelee were given a private room, but it contained bunk beds I believe.
Michael had his whole family there so they all stayed in the small house on the property and Kristina and a couple others stayed with them.
Don stayed in his own RV which he drove to the festival. I'm pretty sure he had the best accommodations there!
I don't know what the room situations were like for Anne, Arnold, Mike, Doug, Grant, Robert, Dan, Karen, and Tony, but if they had their own room I can understand why. Unlike the festival attendees, they're working all week. They don't have the choice of whatever they want to do each day. They are on, talking to people, answering questions, giving classes, assisting others in their talks and making sure the even runs smoothly.
So to say that presenters have better rooms than attendees, is not totally true and it's not taking into consideration why they might have a private space. When you're giving talks every day and expected to be available for everyone in between it's nice to have a place where you can recharge, get a quick nap in and to make sure you get good sleep. It's not possible for 600+ attendees to have their own rooms, so how do we solve this? It's a tough situation for Anne and the other staff to try to figure out where to put everyone, but I think they did a great job.
Is there an overall feeling of separation between attendees and presenters? I think that it is however you perceive it and your experience is what you make it. If you keep yourself separate, you may feel separate. If you make an effort to interact with a presenter, there's is no way they would make you feel like anything but a welcomed friend.
I really want to thank anyone who stuck it out and read this whole thing, lol. I know it was long, but I felt like I needed to share my feelings.