This weekend’s MAYfest boasts many of the expected characteristics of a typical summertime blowout, including camping, vendors and, of course, music. Yet this festival is more than just maximum tuneage: Attendees can also pick classes spanning music workshops to yoga seminars to art activities.
Program and marketing director Stephanie Jarm says that she “navigates” the entire experience of the festival attendee. “It’s really a labor of love,” she says. “I love creating memories for people. I’m also a big holistic person. It’s challenging and a lot of work, but it’s magical.”
Jarm met the MAYfest creators, the husband-and-wife team of Dave and Melia Marzollo, through their other music festival, Catskill Chill. That fest ran for six years, with Jarm as its check-in director. Yoga started finding its way into Catskill Chill, becoming a popular activity for attendees.
“That lit the lightbulb for Melia,” Jarm says. “She’s been buzzing around that idea for a while.”
Jarm is a self-employed event producer and is involved with the holistic community in Connecticut. The Marzollos thought she would be an appropriate MAYfest component: “They asked me to create the culture of the festival and define what it is. It’s really exciting.”
The festival, now in its third year, is expected to lure 2,000 attendees when it takes the stages at Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring. MAYfest begins Friday, May 26, 1 p.m., and ends at midnight on Sunday, May 28. Tickets span $10 to $225, depending on the package. More information is available at mayfestny.com.
Festival goers will span babies to grandparents with the common goal of enjoying daytime classes and nighttime parties.
Unlike most summertime music events, MAYfest will offer 140 sessions and workshops, including all types of topics within the umbrellas of music, art and yoga. “It’s like school,” Jarm says. “You get a ticket and then enroll in programs. You select classes and create a schedule.”
Yoga, art, meditation and hiking all find places in the festival. People can take as many classes as they want, as long as they don’t overlap in time.
Tickets are available in different combinations, allowing attendees to come and camp for the whole weekend or single days, or just come for evenings of music. Kids through age 12 can also participate in hula-hooping classes, songwriting workshops or drum fitness classes, where Dr. Joe Benton teaches children to practice mindfulness through dancing and drum circles as part of the Creation Song Project.
Collaborations are also a big part of the festival, with musicians who perform at night also finding their way into daytime workshops, often combining yoga with music. Melia Marzollo will teach a yoga class while members of Rusted Root perform live as will Marti Nikko with DJ Drez.
The lineup includes yoga teacher Sadie Nardini with Salt and Bone, DJ Taz Rashid, Will Evans & Rising Tide, Garcia Project, Haley Jane & The Primates, Dustin Thomas and more. Visual arts will include photography, dreamcatcher weaving, painting and suminigashi, also known as Japanese water painting.
Jarm also emphasizes the interplay between teachers, students and art forms. “We’re expecting 2,000, but that includes teachers,” she says. “They come and teach, but also attend classes. They like to learn from each other. They’re just as excited (as the students).”
Although the MAYfest theme encourage holistic goals and overall body, mind and soul wellness, Jarm recognizes that not everyone is a yoga fanatic. “One thing we really focused on this year is creating a program for wannabe yogis or non-yogis,” she says. “Even in the class descriptions, we asked teachers to not be so yoga wordy. Use English. We want people to understand what’s happening.”
Physical activity and programs are also not limited to yoga. The camp is located on a lake where hiking, swimming and kayaking are also popular. And for those who aren’t yogis yet, they can become one over the weekend.
“We added Yoga 101 to every single day of the festival,” Jarm says. “Teachers will really break it down and make it super-simple so people can dip their toe in the water. To me, that’s what makes MAYfest so different. Wanderlust (another holistic festival), as beautiful as it is, is very yogi-centered. You’re doing a lot of yoga if you’re going to Wanderlust. MAYfest is much more casual. You can come and enjoy the sun all day or just see the music.”
The festival has also teamed with the Veterans Yoga Project, which helps veterans and families deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder through yoga. And there will be a gratitude wall installation at the festival, where people will share what they’re grateful for.
“I’m grateful to talk about what we’re doing,” Jarm adds. “Bringing yoga, art and the community out: We’re happy to share it.”