MONCTON – Gail Collins and Cathy Manuel are already planning a bigger and better event in their second year organizing the Breathe Moncton Yoga Fest. But they’re also working on plans to expand beyond Moncton.
This year’s Breathe Moncton Yoga Fest, which will take place on Saturday, July 28 at the Riverfront Park, will have a dozen more vendors than last year’s 27, and around 30 workshops and classes by teachers from as far as Ottawa and Montreal.
“We’re anticipating about 2,500-plus [people] to attend this year. I think we had about 800 last year,” said Collins, the co-founder of the festival and owner of Bend City Yoga studio.
A show by Ontario-based musician Sammy Duke, a live belly dancing performance, a hugging booth and a live painting event will also be offered at the one-day festival.
The free event – except for two paid workshops – is also a fundraiser for Youth Impact Moncton, a non-profit that works with at-risk and homeless youth in the city.
Donations from attendants will help pay for the programming and administrative needs of the non-profit, said Manuel, the co-founder of the festival and also the associate director for YouthQUEST and development at Youth Impact.
“In order to keep some of its programs operational, such as YouthQUEST Central, transitional housing and our drug intervention program, Youth Impact needs to raise a little bit more than $500,000 per year,” she said. “We have different methods of fundraising, and this is one of them. But every penny is a good penny when it comes to fundraising. There’s no donation that’s too small.”
Last year, Collins and Manuel held their first yoga festival after just six weeks of planning and preparations. Yet, they raised nearly $2,000 for Youth Impact and had $3,000 worth of door prizes to give away.
“This year it’s a lot of more streamlined,” Collins said.
This year they had more time to prepare and changed the event’s name from Moncton Yoga Festival to Breathe Moncton Yoga Festival to reflect the wellness and yoga community better. They rely on sponsors to fund the event.
Collins and Manuel are partners in Breathe Wellness, the organization that hosts the Yoga Festival. Manuel was Collins’ student when she taught yoga at a different studio. When Collins came up with the idea of having a yoga festival over a year ago, it resonated with Manuel.
“I’ve run events before and with my experience in running events and Gail’s passion for yoga and mine as well it just worked well together,” she said.
Collins said she started the festival because she wanted to get to know her industry better.
“I wanted to connect with people in the wellness industry. Obviously, the interest in wellness is on the rise, it’s evident wherever you go right now. I wanted to kind of get my name out there and also establish a relationship with other people who complement that wellness lifestyle,” she said.
Next year, Breathe Wellness wants to expand the reach of the festival outside of Moncton.
“We plan to expand and have Moncton and at least one or two other locations in Atlantic Canada,” Manuel said.
“Moncton will always be our home base but this is just our starting point. We plan on doing retreats overseas to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and we plan on doing teacher training, eventually,” Collins added.