The 2019 Unifier Campout is set to kick off this Thursday June 20th and run through Sunday June 23rd, bringing together a diverse and powerful group of inspirational musicians, dancers, artists, educators, families and all ages of change makers. This the 6th annual edition of the 4-day festival will be held at Camp Timber Trails (situated on 417 acres of forest, field and lake) in beautiful Tolland, Massachusetts.
With a vision to honor and bring together various subcultures, the organizers welcome all who attend to care for the land, enjoy organic food, and to connect with children, elders and all in attendance, with respect and generosity. Unifier festival is an experiential, interactive event that builds community and earth-centered awareness through arts and entertainment, while promoting sustainable living. The event’s guiding philosophy is deeply rooted in honoring nature and all life, and is based on the premise that we are all born to live creatively.
This year the line-up for the festival’s two stages includes these exciting acts: Bella’s Bartok, Novalima, Worldtown, Club D’Elf, Dub Apocalypse, Hayley Jane, Incus, Kaminanda, ReBelle, Living Light, Tania Asili, Yaima, Barika, Digital Vagabond, Mister Rourke, The Big Takeover, Raganova, Kotoko Brass, Cura Cura, Stratusphere, DJ Arcano, Adam Bauer, Espejismo and CozmicTheo, Bright Hawk, Journey Weaver and more. Plus, attendees to the Unifier Campout 2019 can look forward to an array of yoga, Qigong and Kirtan offerings, and offerings from elders from various cultures carrying and sharing indigenous wisdom. Children’s programming, sculptural works, live painting, immersive workshops and installations by various visual artists and sculptors will be happening. Vendor’s offerings include many handmade, fair-trade items and we work hard to invite vendors who provide organic, local as possible, cruelty-free food. It is a camping-optional event, with upgrades to cabins available, and plenty of swimming, canoeing and kayaking. Lifeguards will be on duty at the lake.
We had a chance to catch-up with Jason Cohen, main organizer of Unifier Festival, and we had a few questions for him regarding the fest:
The Buzz: This has been a 6 year journey. How has Unifier evolved in that time?
Unifier: Over the 6 years we’ve focused on developing culture, relationships, and artfulness. We’ve added things like the Ancestor’s Lantern Lighting Ceremony on Friday night. We’ve also developed our relationship with the town of Tolland. And last summer was the first time we ran the event as co-owners of the Camp, for which over 40 people came together and created an entity to purchase the Land. The sense of stewardship made a palpable difference. Though hard work, with heart-centered gratitude and sense of pride, we stepped further into a place of realizing our mission.
The Buzz: Unifier is a self-described community and earth-based festival with a philosophy of honoring all forms of life and creativity. How does the festival and what it has to offer reflect these goals?
Unifier: We have developed this community for a lot more years that we’ve had this festival. We started running gatherings called Forestdance in 2003, which are still happening, and for 6 years we offered SWID Sacred World Interdependence Day up at Earthlands in Petersham. These gatherings, along with Unifier, offer workshops and opportunities to be creative and to learn about caring for the Earth. The HeARTbeat Collective, our 501c3, is a Healing and Expressive Arts organization who’s mission is: We are a group of people united by the common cause of creating and supporting gatherings, workshops, and events that inspire and educate people through the healing and expressive arts, with a focus on healthy and sustainable relations to the earth and one another.
The festival workshop programming includes “arms” of study, like Permaculture, and we curate the gathering with artists that we feel are akin to our mission. We offer healthy and organic foods, elixirs with medicinal qualities, and take a lot of care with paying attention to subtlety with our programming, so we can maximize a sense of expansion on the grounds. The Land itself is gorgeous.
The Buzz: This year’s event boasts some really great music, as well as a lot of fun activities for all ages. What are you personally looking forward to the most this weekend?
Unifier: This year we are building out a new stage space. There is an Amphitheater near Ward’s Pond that the old owners the Girl Scouts developed. It’s a beautiful bowl-shaped space right on the water, and when I walk down into the space I’m always awestruck by the beauty there. We’ve been transforming this space into one of our main stage areas this year, putting lighting nests in the trees, and there is a fire element across of the front of the area that will hold a flame we consider sacred from the beginning of the gathering until the end. We’ll be lighting this fire (weather permitting) on Thursday with a magnifying glass from the Sun on the main field. This is always a favorite. Every year there is a moment for me, most often on Saturday night when the realization of a year’s hard work settles in. in 2016 it was during Anitbalas, with the projection mapping hitting the main stage. Last year it was during Mike Love’s set when he offered a heartfelt blessing to the land and to the gathering. Two years ago it was Sunday late afternoon when Dirtwire’s set, as the summer rain was coming down and everyone was getting down on the dance floor. They broke into Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” and the sky opened up. It was cathartic and wonderful in just about every way imaginable. There are people that are family that I don’t get to see too often that show up, and it’s a real treat. I also get to share my music in the Amphitheater with our new line up late Saturday night and I love when folks sing along with us.
A portion of the proceeds from Unifier will, as it has for multiple years, be offered to help sustain the land project and camp where it is hosted.
Weekend or Day Passes are also available. You can get tickets Here.