It went swimmingly from start to finish, which was great, of course. But what was best was the comments from the many grateful guests who felt their life had been markedly changed, which was truly gratifying.
About 200 people were present in the building each day. Friday kicked off with the opening ceremony, which was myself introducing the Festival and what was about to happen, followed by the fantastic Jackie Rawe, who really helped make our Festival last year. Jackie was a former member of Shakatak, as well as backing singer for Elton John, Celine Dion, Cher and Eric Clapton, and has one of the most powerful voices you will ever hear live. She was awesome as ever.
The highlight of Day 1, apart from the ever-fascinating lectures from Dr Doug Graham, Professor Rozalind Graham, Mike Nash, Elaine Bruce, Chad Sarno, Gabriel Cousens MD and Tonya Zavasta, was the Smoothie Making Competition. This equated to our Friday night entertainment, and boy, was it entertaining! The contestants were Chad Sarno, Rene Archner, Mike Nash, Jason Vale, Trish Tucker, Tonya Zavasta and myself. It was a riot from start to finish with Tonya and her husband Nick quite literally making the audience cry with laughter with their double act (he made the smoothie while she basically took the rip out of him!), and she and the rest of the competitors sharing their best smoothie recipe for 5 members of the audience to taste after each demo.
The winner was Rene (pictured left) with his pear smoothie and 45 points out of a possible 50. Chad and I came joint runners up with 41/50 each - that score AND tying with "the world's best raw food chef" I can live with! I made a variation of my Chocolate Mmmmilk smoothie (see recipe featured on second entry) and even I was impressed!
Saturday was the longest day, and, as predicted, was the most eventful of all. The inimitable Jason Vale started the proceedings with his funky music, fast talking and manic rebounding. The room was a riot as usual and, after Jason's 90 minute session, the day started off just as we anticipated - leaving people completely energised and raring to go.
After Jason, Saturday featured Brian Clement, Dr Doug Graham, Rene Archner, Gabriel Cousens and Professor Rozalind Graham. All of whom gave terrific presentations, and all of whom are available on CD or cassette if you want to hear what they had to say!
But the biggest highlights of Saturday, day 2, were:
1) The arrival of Woody Harrelson!
2) The grand buffet dinner
3) The evening entertainment from Jackie Rawe followed by the all-night disco
Over 150 people, including Woody Harrelson, sat down to the most exquisite all-raw evening meal, prepared by Chad Sarno and his Vital Creations team. To see what we ate on this fun and food-filled night, view the menu here.
Once dinner was over, our very own Pete and guest singer Jackie sat among the diners and Pete played "A Mighty Love" on his guitar as Jackie sung the song (co-written by her) live and mike-free to a hugely impressed and grateful audience.
The evening moved on with Jackie singing some covers as well as her own songs, live and loud on stage, and the floor filled with groovy people in the blink of an eye! Jackie handed over to DJ Mark and thus followed a night of dancing to the mixed sounds of our resident DJ.
At 1am the night was over, but would people leave?! Not without a gentle ushering out the door from the management! "Come back tomorrow ladies and gents, there's still much more fun to be had..." Thank goodness the clocks went back an hour so we could all rest and recouperate after hours of running around being busy!
Day 3: Sunday 30th October 2005
The third day and presentations today were from Brian Clement, Anna Maria Clement, Gabriel Cousens, Jill Swyers, Myself and Chad Sarno. The speaker panel, after lunch, was a great part of the programme and featured Gabriel, Brian, Anna Maria, Rozalind, Doug and Tonya. This provided the audience with the opportunity to ask questions to their chosen speaker and for 90 minutes diverse subjects were covered such as athletes and diet, feeding children, feeding husbands, personal care products, "which way is the right way?" and much more. Most memorable comment of the session was Tonya's "Don't throw away a perfectly good man just because he won't eat grass with you!". Needless to say, Tonya will be invited back again next year - husband willing!
The closing ceremony saw the Vita-Mix prize draw being made (congratulations to lucky winner Jill Swyers), the long list of thank yous and tributes being paid by myself and Pete, Chad and his wonderful team being honoured for all their hard work producing the food and dinner throughout the long weekend, and Jackie sending us off with some more fantastic live singing. The audience got on their feet one last time to finish the weekend off on the ultimate high, before the clock struck 7pm and... the event was over.
Everyone left with a smile on their face and feeling very different to how they had first arrived. 3 days of raw food eating, information and that feel-good factor has a lot to be said for it... So much so, that in spite of originally planning NOT to run a Festival in 2006, there will be another. Quite likely same time, same place... This will be confirmed in the next few days.
A big thanks to everyone who supported this event. It was an all-round winner and we can't wait to revise, expand and better the event for you all in October 2006. Any suggestions, feedback or ideas warmly welcomed either via this blog or emailed direct to me.
To take a look at a whole range of photos from the Fresh Festival 2005 and to share in the event if you weren't there or to remember it fondly if you were, click here.