SWFL Peace Day coalesced Sunday at the Alliance for the Arts off McGregor Boulevard with a late-’60s vibe and consciousness that commingled music, spirituality, environmentalism and, above everything else, peace.
The 11th version of the event was bustling from its mid-morning start with booths offering all manner of things mindful of the environment, health and spirit, including crystals, essential oils, CBD products, tie-dye and natural clothing, yoga, juices and even hugs.
“We all fit into the idea of peace,” said organizer Zachari VanDyne, who kept the event at the McGregor venue for the second year after being basically blown out of Cape Coral’s Jaycees Park by Hurricane Irma.
“It’s not like going to a holistic fair,” he said. “It’s a big sense of community.”
It’s a chance for people to be calm and feel peaceful for a day, VanDyne said.
“Everyone has a good time,” he said. “Even the vendors. Everyone gets something from it.”
There was an expanded offering this year as well, VanDyne said, with more booths, workshops on recycling, sustainability, zero waste, more offerings for children and even a mechanical shark — a watery version of the western bar-favored mechanical bull.
Musicians playing live ’60s and ’70s music such as Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield enhanced the hippie-era feeling.
Musicians from the Americana Community Music Association played their own music as well as covers of established songs on the Alliance stage.
“Music promotes peace and keeps people together,” said Alice Shafer, an association board member. This year was the first year for the ACMA members to play. “We did it informally last year,” she said.
The type of music played kept within the tone of the Peace Day.
“They bring in blues, bluegrass … roots music,” said Nancy Staub, an association volunteer.
Highlighted by the music, the event’s mood might have been counterculture, but the crowd was a mixture of generations.
Giedre Avellino, 41, of Cape Coral, was escorting her daughter and friends around the venue, enjoying the atmosphere.
“I attend every year,” she said. “It’s peace in the heart and peace in the mind. It’s a great, wonderful event.”
Her daughter, Izzy, an Oasis Middle School student, agreed. “It’s really interesting,” she said, adding that the event made her feel good despite the country’s current political climate.
Even the vendors had the peace vibe going.
At Elizabeth Alexakis’ Young Living booth, a display of health and wellness products offered a path to organic health, beauty and cleansing.
“It’s healthier and nontoxic living,” said Jennifer Ducker Brownlee, an independent distributor of the products with Alexakis. “We’re keeping people above the wellness line.”
The two were at their third Peace Day promoting a healthy lifestyle to like-minded people.
“People of this mindset are more open to taking care of themselves and the Earth,” Alexakis said. “It goes hand-in-hand. It doesn’t have to hurt the environment, you leave the Earth in better shape. These are our peeps!”
One booth was also drawing the attention of local wildlife. The FGCU Food Foresters offered an array of plants and cuttings which attracted the attention of a monarch butterfly that kept coming back again and again to a milkweed plant, eventually leaving a smattering of tiny yellow eggs along the leaves.
The Foresters are an FGCU-linked group that is trying to revamp after its campus food forest was decimated by Hurricane Irma.
“The club is reorganizing,” said member Danielle Quina, a senior early education major. “Its revolution disguised as gardening.”
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