Let me feast my eyes on the evidence that there is a power so much greater than I. Taking in the nature of never ending clear skies, immovable mountains kissed with ever giving forests made me feel whole.
Enchant my soul with musical tunes from around the world, transporting me to another place.
Feed my human need to be enriched with culture and I find a place in my heart sweetened.
I received all of these elements at the spring LEAF festival in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Apache and I saw LEAF festival welcomed groups of young and old, friends, families and cuddling lovers. Some people enjoyed the festivities for the weekend with intentions to camp and some there only for a day. This is a family friendly affair with plenty of entertainment for all age groups.
A small shuttle bus escorted us past the LEAF camp grounds to the festival from the parking area.
The first thing we noticed was lots of children and families. This makes sense because LEAF’s non-profit efforts are all directed to LEAF schools and streets for their local and global youth programs that support cultural arts education. With this knowledge, we were so happy to be contributing. Consequently, our attendance allows us to be a part of the positive change we would like to see in our future.
The children covered songs by civil rights activist such as Nina Simone and others from whom we could all learn. Watching the children share powerful quotes and history facts that complemented the tunes they proudly sang was very moving; I believe they gave every listener hope.
We met one teenager who sat on the grass exercising her entrepreneurial and creative spirit selling necklaces that she made herself. This young girl informed us that she had been selling her craft work at LEAF for several years now. She mentioned that she loved coming to LEAF every year with her family. What a great way to encourage goal setting, self esteem, creativity and self independence in a child!
Some of the events made available for the children included Teenage Female Power Funk, OSO Kid Hop Dance Party, a Teen poetry slam, a Magic and Wonder show and LEAF International Tanzania to name a few options but all events are family friendly.
There was something for everyone. We decided to put our sheet down on the grass to relax, people watch, sun bathe and enjoy the the beautiful lake and mountain view. After sunbathing the colorful Ignite and Inspire parade began and our inner hippy emerged!
There was singing/ song writing workshops and also an exciting fire performance that evening. Who turns down a chance to gaze at twirling fire on a pitch black evening in the mountains? Basically you could make your festival day as chill or as active as you like.
How to prepare for LEAF
1) Managing your time
My best advice for managing the LEAF festival’s elaborate itinerary would be to go to the website , review it and the map ahead of time. Note which events you definitely don’t want to miss. Plan to factor in time to walk from one area to another. Planning ahead will also allow you time to get to your chosen events 15-30 min early for a good view of the show, dance space or seat but you can arrive to any gathering whenever you like-it’s very laid back here.
Factor in time to browse, there is a lot to see. If you want to vendor shop there are loads of clothing, art, jewelry and unique item vendors to explore.
2) Saving money on food
Food trucks and culinary booths at LEAF offer international, vegetarian, health conscious options as well as typical yummy junk food if you are so inclined.
We chose to purchase the Culinary Passport available on the LEAF website because this offered us 5 full meals for the day for $50. This Spring, The Corner Kitchen catered in Eden Hall; we could pile as much food as we wanted onto our plate for each meal. Our Passport ticket got hole punched for each plate of food. I believe we saved money doing it this way. If you don’t purchase the ticket but want to have one of these meals, your plate will be weighed for purchase price.
LEAF has the food hook-up!
The food is gourmet and prepared by local chefs. If you choose this option I would say arrive 15min early to cut back on time standing in line, although the line did move quickly. These special meals are served in a community dining style environment with entertainment.
3) What to pack
For our day trip we packed a debit card, bed sheet, sun block, bug spray and a few bottles of water although bottles of water at LEAF were only $1.
I started out very comfortable in my summer dress but by evening it felt like 40 degrees so definitely bring layers. In addition, it did rain that morning so basically there was large areas of mud. Keep in mind when planning what to wear that you could potentially get dirty which could be fun. So remember, layers and comfort is key.
It’s also a good idea to bring a poncho and footwear you don’t mind getting muddy for possible Spring showers. If you want to wear a costume feel free, this is a huge playground for children and adults alike. If you decide that you want to stay more than one day but you are not a camper type, no problem, Airbnb is a great option!
If you are unsure about whether you can afford to attend LEAF remember that it is a non-profit organization for children and you may be able to use your tickets as a tax write off.
LEAF was a very special occasion with great purpose and we agree with LEAF that the more we learn the more we grow!
Watch our LEAF Vlog here!