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Relaxpansion Fest planned for solstice weekend

A family-friendly music festival is coming to Ashland for summer solstice weekend with a mission to connect the community.

The event, previously known as Bhakti Village, is now dubbed Relaxpansion Fest. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday, June 21, at Jackson Wellsprings along Highway 99, and festivities continue at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22. Camping is available.

According to organizer Lloyd Barde, the event will include features such as live music, food vendors, yoga, movement art, sound healing, artists and crafts booths.

A big difference from other festivals, Barde said, is that alcohol and drugs are not allowed.

“A lot of festivals have a lot of roots music and a lot of drugs, but this one has a broad range of music that is inspiring,” Barde said.

The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission is sponsoring the New Earth Peace Pavilion Speaker’s Forum, in the only room with air-conditioning, Barde said.

“These speakers will provide short talks that invite discussion, not lectures,” Barde said. “They’ll be talking about topics like 5G, racial inequality and artistic sovereignty.”

Musical performances include artists such as Madonna’s back-up singer Donna De Lory, Elijah Ray, Adey Bell, David Kai and more.

Barde has been in the music industry since he opened his first record shop in 1972. He said the artists performing at the festival are all hand-selected friends.

“My motto is only work with friends,” Barde said. “The music is just amazing. I’ve been in the music arena for such a long time, and these are friends I’ve chosen to present.”

He also said he’s pulled together a house band so artists won’t have to go through the nuances of setting up and taking down between performances.

“At a festival, sometimes you’re getting eight people off the stage and getting nine people on the stage, and doing a sound check all in 15 minutes, and it’s chaos,” Barde said. “This makes the production aspect so easy I don’t even need a stage manager.”

Barde and his wife, Deborah, organized the Bhakti Village festival in Ashland the past two years.

“I’ve learned from experience how to create these events, and from listening to how this should be done from other people,” Barde said.

The stages close at 11 p.m., but there will be campfire jam sessions afterward, Barde said.

“It’s not all night long. It’s not loud DJ music. It’s pleasing,” Barde said. “People really feel how relaxed it is.”

There’s also a large children’s area in a central location in the shade of a large tree. The children’s area is organized by parents and will have activities such as face-painting, a talent show and a kids parade. It’ll most likely be run by a 12-year-old, so it’s sure to be a fun place for the kids, Barde said.

“The parents are designing it and hosting it,” Barde said. “When you say family-friendly, it’s just a way to get people to come, but here it’s really family-friendly.”

The festival is designed to connect all aspects of the festival together, so people can flow freely from one activity to the next.

“All of the artists are included in a nonhierarchical basis, and we try to dissolve the distance between the stage and the audience,” Barde said. “Someone asked me last year, ‘Where’s the VIP greenroom?’ and I said, “You’re standing in it — it’s everywhere!” Barde said.

“The musicians don’t get separated, they’re just in it, in the audience playing with everyone,” Barde said.

He said this festival is all about bringing the community together for a little rejuvenation.

“We hope to have a large crowd of 300 to 400 people, which is certainly not huge but large enough to have a big community,” Barde said.

There will be local and visiting artists, musicians and businesses such as Om Gaia Tree clothing and Masala Bar and Bistro.

Day passes costs $25 for Friday, $45 for Saturday or $60 for both days. A camping, hot springs and festival pass costs $108.

Tickets can be purchased at Music Coop at 268 E. Main St., at Jackson Wellsprings, 2253 Highway 99 or online at tickets.brightstarevents.com/event/relaxpansion-fest.

Tickets can be bought at the door for $5 more.

Barde said the event is sponsored by local organizations such as the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Ashland Food Co-op and Pacific Domes, Inc.

“Next year, it will expand even further, but being here supported by so many people makes such a big difference,” Barde said.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Children sing onstage at a past Bhakti Village festival in Ashland. The event returns this year as Relaxpansion Fest.