It's time for the 2nd annual SummerFest, the free festival that celebrates and promotes healthy living. It's happening at Battleship Park this Saturday, 8/26, 9:30am-4:30pm. You won't find any soda or fried food, but there will be many other things to eat-and do. There are three main aspects of this festival: the vendors, the Singer/Songwriter Showcase, and the International Street Food Challenge.
We spoke with Summerfest Director, Martin Case, and Joy Ward, the Program Manager for Going Beyond the Pink, the new non-profit organization that is the beneficiary of fundraising at the festival. Listen above, or see an extended interview below.
Gina: Martin, this is the second SummerFest. Tell me about about the event itself.
Martin: Well, front to back, the events has three basic functions or portions of it. One of them is SummerFest which is basically a vendor fair and it includes everything from chiropractor's to bouncy houses to aromatherapy to thermography to gyms-you name it. I usually have about 100 vendors out. And they do quite a good job. And then we have a singer songwriter showcase that will have nine musicians or bands in them and they will be basically run like America's Got Talent and they'll be eliminated in rounds until they get to the, the winner of it will get 16 hours recording time in a studio, professionally mixed and edited with five pieces of music on an EP. They'll be getting some airtime and some, there's some other things will be coming along with it. It should be pretty nice.
The main portion of the event is the International Street Food Challenge. And there are 10 restaurants in the area here. A lot of the big names that are very good chefs that will be out there and they will be voted for for the best and we'll have a nice reward for them if they win it. But the people that will really win will be Going Beyond the Pink, who will be the charity that we've chosen for this festival. The tickets for the food there- for the street food portion of it- all of the sales of those tickets all of the proceeds will go to Going Beyond the Pink.
Gina: Martin, how did you meet Joy [Program Manager of Going Beyond the Pink]? How did you decide that you wanted Joy's organization to be the beneficiary for this?
Martin: Well, we've had Joy out here with another organization. And I initially, I believe I ran into her at a meeting, and just introduced. She's just a very conversant individual. And so we got a good time to talk and I immediately liked her and I believe in what she's doing. I believe in building the community and finding, as you said, taking care of what's right in front of us. If we do that, we build a better overall community and everybody's lives are better.
Gina: Martin, tell me about the musicians at SummerFest.
Martin: What will end up happening with this is, all of the musicians will come out to begin with and they'll each get 15 minutes on stage. At the end of that round, half of them will be going home.
And they'll go back and try with those that remain. They'll go through another round in 15 minutes. At the end of that, again, half of them will end up having to go home. The people that are out there are people that are local, they're musicians that I like a lot of their music. And it's a fairly broad spectrum and I think we've got a really talented group of individuals both at the festival, but when you find them out here in Wilmington playing in the halls and playing in the streets and whatever else, they've got a passion for it. And we just got some tremendously talented individuals. Of those, one of the groups is named Volume and one of the groups is called Unity Band. Both of them are very talented in similar veins. Maurice Holmes. He's from a little way from here, not far, and he has a very interesting type of musical background, he does a great job and he's very professional about it. I've got Jarrett Rayment-fabulous voice, tremendous voice, very talented and he plays wherever he can find a spot to play and people come and listen to him. Jenna Huff-she's got a really wonderful voice. She writes a ton of her own music and it's very talented. I don't have anybody here I'm going to say doesn't have talent. The Hatch Brothers with Jenny Pearson. Jenny has tremendous energy on stage and is very charismatic and she writes almost all of her own music. Monica Jane will also be out there. She does more of a ballad type music. And then there's one you might know the last name of, Johanna Winkel. And she'll be joining us. She's extremely talented.
So, and I'm really hoping, if any of them win, whichever one wins, it it will just be unfortunate that the others couldn't. I mean, because they're all talented, they should all have record contracts somewhere and they do a really great job. And we've got them right here. Oh, and all of the music must be original. There's no covers.
Gina: Who makes the vote?
Martin: This is a people's choice, so anyone who attends the festival, if they're at each round, they'll have the opportunity to put in their vote for who they think was the best onstage and then that will be counted up right before the next round starts. In the event of some kind of a tie, I actually have a professional, two professional music industry individuals that will be out there to break ties and it will finally wrap up somewhere around 3:30, I think. And we have Low Tide Studio is who will be doing the recording and he's got a very good studio, he really does. He's got a lot of very nice equipment.
Gina: That sounds like a lot of fun. OK and then, the street food, the International Street Food Challenge, that's the part that is going to raise money for Going Beyond the Pink. Tell me how that works and what kind of food we'll see.
Martin: It has to be regionally identifiable food. I don't care where it comes from, I mean, you could do New York if you wanted or you could do, you know, New Orleans or whatever. Or you could do foreign countries, it doesn't matter. But it has to be authentic. It will also have no ground beef in it. And we try and keep these things kind of healthy and keep people away from it. I want people more aware of the idea that you can make awesome food that doesn't have to be bad for you and these gentlemen that are going to be out and women that are going to be out showing off their skills, if you get the opportunity to come out, these people are some of the best chefs in this state and they're just awesome. So they'll do that. That's also people's choice. The people will buy a ticket, they'll go around get single servings from each of them. That's about a four ounce serving, so that's about 40 ounces of food. So I'm sure you could share that with somebody you were with, but only one one of you would get a chance to vote for it. And then what will end up happening, once again I've got Judy Royal that will be out there and she'll be there to make sure that we're following the rules and that it is authentic and that she's going to be our professional judge. But the people's choices will be, the votes will go in and only in case of a tie will will Judy Royal's vote get cast. So that will make a difference in that. But they will also walk away with some pretty nice gifts.
Gina: And then the rest of it regarding the SummerFest part, those are all the vendors. Martin: I have bouncy houses, I've got paint face painting. I've got people that do green spirit hydro gardens down on market street. They'll be out there, that, they are, they do hydroponics and that kind of thing. There'll be people out there that do different types of healthy supplements. There'll be people that will be out there doing Zumba. There'll be people out there doing mixed martial arts. I have, if you know what parkour is, we have two nationally known parkour people out there. One of them was in American Ninja Warrior last year and I believe they came in second place. The other one that will be out there will be a contestant in that, is a contestant in that currently. I think they're finished now. But I've noticed that he's followed all around so I think he's probably done pretty well. But these guys are awesome. These guys do things that I could never have done. They can flip, jump, climb, do all kinds of stuff that normal humans aren't supposed be able to do. But they're a blast to watch.
Gina: So they'll be parkouring out there?
Martin: Uh huh. And yeah, we have demonstrations all day long of all kinds of different things. I've got kettlebells that will be being done, yoga from Bikram Yoga out there. There's a lot of health food that goes on out there. I've got a lot of really great food that will be out there that isn't part of the street food portion. It's going to be a fun festival. It really is.
Gina: So tell me about your background. You're a health guy.
Martin: I am a health guy.
Gina: You are all about health. So I have two questions. One is, just tell me about your background, where you're coming from what's your perspective. And then, how you decide should these people be in the healthy living festival or not?
Martin: The way somebody gets into SummerFest or any of the Healthy Living festivals is if they're perceived to be a benefit to the community, they help maintain quality of life, and they represent a healthy lifestyle. If you can fit all those things in, then I'd be happy to have you out there. There's a lot of really bad food out there, so they can't come. You know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of things that people do, like I probably wouldn't be willing to bring certain other things that contribute to a negative lifestyle in. The whole idea is getting people together, socializing, interacting, doing things that are physically and cognitively challenging, being involved with their environment, their community, and getting to know where those resources are. If you fall into a category where you can contribute to those things, I'd love to have you out there.
Gina: Sooo, will there be fried Snickers bars?
Martin: There will be no fried Snickers bars. And one of my vendors with a vendor truck, he's coming out but he's going to have to sideline about half of his normal menu because it can't, it can't come out there. There are no sodas. But that doesn't mean that there's not good stuff to drink. We don't ,there's no fried foods. No. I try and avoid white flour products.
Gina: What about elephant ears?
Martin: That might be at another festival across town. Probably not at the Healthy Living festivals.
Gina: Is there a pig pickin?
Martin: There is not a pig pickin.
Gina: OK, the other question is, what what's your background in terms of where you're coming from. You have your work that you do and your perspective.
Martin: I spent several decades in the mental health industry with people that have persistent mental health issues and I initially was involved with schizophrenics and with people that were severe bipolar. However, I also noticed that there was another underserved group of individuals who were those individuals that have dementias. And I felt that there were, I began to learn more about the subject as I went forward. And while I was working for the state for, I guess about eight years, I was teaching dementias and began carrying a caseload to try to understand the disease process better and to see what could be done to help. And I know from research and I know from the medical documentation out there that more than 50 percent of all dementias can be avoided if we get engaged early enough in our lives.
I've worked in skilled nursing and ran memory care units. And one of the things I felt needed to change in our industry there, was to do something called a household model which allows people to live more of a normal life within those confines. And it reduces the number of people that they're exposed to as far as, you're not sitting there with 30 people for dinner. They can get up when they want to go wherever they basically like to go within certain parameters and their quality of life is better than if we leave them just simply locked behind doors and make sure that they sit down all the time. If we can get people to have dementia to become more active, they tend to decline less rapidly. If we can get people that don't currently have dementia or don't know they have it to become more physically active, mentally active, community involved, get them out in the sunshine about 20 minutes a day and get them to have a purpose in life, do something. But if you sit at home or you sit in a facility and you have nothing to do, you decline. Anyway, so, I feel like we can make a big change in our community if we can get people more socially active within their community. And if we can make that change and we've reduced dementias by 50 percent, that's a big change.
Gina: And part of it also is about is about food.
Martin: Absolutely. Absolutely. We eat far too much bleached flour. We eat far too much sugar. The average American eats about one hundred fifty-five pounds of processed pure white sugar every year. And that's not counting what's inside the tomato cans and the sauces and this, that, and the other thing. But a 155 pounds of sugar? Your body was never designed to do anything like that. And so, as a net result people become, they have systemic inflammation. It becomes an issue for them.
Flour is every bit as bad, if not worse. If you put sugar in your mouth your body produces insulin to counteract that. Well, if you eat flour, flour at the same ratios actually hit your system faster and harder than just straight up sugar does. And so it insults your system. You develop systemic inflammation and that's when we start seeing more cancers, more dementia, all kinds of things. If you get into it, if you look into it, reducing the amount of sugars that you put in your system will change your life. It will change your outcome, you know.
Gina: Joy, tell me about Going Beyond the Pink, a brand new nonprofit organization to help people who are experiencing breast cancer or to help prevent it.
Joy: Yes, Going Beyond the Pink is a new nonprofit that will be serving the seven surrounding counties. Everything that we do will be local as far as financial assistance and support services. What we do is we are there to support those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, during and after. But we also are there to help folks educate themselves about how to do self breast exams, both visually and tactiley, so that if there is a change they will know what to look for and get to the doctor. So we like to say we are a nonprofit that is there before, during, and after a breast cancer diagnosis. For men and women. And everything we do is really appropriate for, you know, high school through senior citizens.
Gina: And how would you give those services to the community? How do you interact with the community? Where do you make the interface?
Joy: You know, the financial piece is the one that is most intriguing to folks. We have supporters in town. The funds that we raise through events, through grants, and through businesses and organizations and individuals. The, most of those funds are from those areas. And those funds are used to provide financial assistance for surgery, chemo, radiation, office co-pays. Our biggest supporter locally is Pink Trash and 100 percent of the money that they give to us is used to help pay for treatments. What we do is actually partner with the medical facilities, the hospitals, oncologists, radiologists. And for those who don't have insurance, we ask them to give us a Medicare/Medicaid rate. And so, we end up paying about a tenth of what the cost would be for if you had insurance or if you were paying out of your pocket. So the financial piece is, we like to say that we have the community raising the money and we are getting that money to the people who need it. And so there's an application process and screening and we really check and see who are most in need to get those lifesaving treatments. So that's what our money is used for, is the life saving treatment part.
The other thing that we do in providing to the community, we have a good storehouse of bras and wigs and prosthetic bras, hug wraps, chemo bags, surgery bags, radiation bags. We have a host of those types of things in our office. And those are free to anyone, whether you've got insurance or whether you're uninsured. And so we like for folks to get in touch with us if they're in need of something. The way they found out about us many times is word of mouth, through radio interviews, and also their doctors, their health caregivers will provide us the information.
And so that's what we do. The other part that we make so unique is that we actually try to serve people who have not and may never be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is our hope. And that's an education program that I have developed being a former teacher. And so, it's called Your Breast: What's Normal, What's Not. And been doing it for about a year, year and a half, and have gotten remarkable interest in results and that we all know we're supposed to do some breast exams. Men and women. But nobody's ever taught us how to do it. How many other boobs have you felt in your life, you know? And so, we actually have models where you feel what the different lumps look like, what the breast tissue normally feels like, what it would feel like if it was lumpy, and then also visuals. So that's really an exciting program and it's proactive which, you know, part of what we want to do through Going Beyond the Pink is make everybody their best advocate. You know, nobody's going to take any better care of you than you take care of yourself. And so, if you brush your teeth, if you've lost your teeth, somebody taught you how to do that. We want you to know what to do when you're checking your breast and then to just be aware if there are changes and if there are, and they're concerning, go to the doctor and get it checked.
Gina: And how did you get involved with breast cancer advocacy?
Joy: Teacher for years. And I always taught second grade. One of my second grade students reconnected with me her junior year in college. She had found a lump when she was at school and went to student health. They misdiagnosed her so she came home in the summer between her junior and senior year of college, was very sick. Mom took her to the doctor and they realized that there was a lump and they did some testing and the lump was cancer and it had already metastasized because it was a quick growing. Within three years she had had chemo, radiation, surgery and she ended up dying at age 23. During that time she and I reconnected and that pulled me back into this world or into this world. And you know, part of the promise and part of that was, I can't let this happen to anybody else if there's something I can do to help. And then also a friend of mine that I talk with, when she was pregnant she was perfectly healthy, she thought. When she started nursing she had difficulty and realized that there was something going on. When they checked that there was a tumor and her cancer was estrogen driven. So during the pregnancy when estrogen levels go crazy the cancer started growing.
And so by the time they realized that, she was young also, fast and aggressive, and she had metastatic and she ended up passing away at about a year from that. So, those two were were education friends. And I said, we can't let this happen. So that kind of pulled me into the world of breast cancer to make a difference. And that's what I've had the privilege to do here in the area for the last six years, and now through a new nonprofit that I'm teaming up to, to make it all happen and stay right here.
Gina: And in terms of the services-why do we need these services here? Which of these services do you think is most important for our area for southeastern North Carolina?
Joy: You know, I think probably the most important service is the financial. Because the folks who have insurance are going to get some assistance. Some of those who even have Medicare are going to get some assistance. But there are populations of people in our community, not those that are necessarily unemployed, they are folks who have jobs, they don't have insurance, they can't afford it and they get a diagnosis and they're trying to make the day to day bills of housing and gas and food and things for their family. And when you throw that diagnosis in there, they just become totally debilitated. As far as being able to care for their family and have to make a choice. So if there's something that we can do to help them get their treatment, that's what we want to do. And so it's not for those who are are being lazy, it's people, it's out of their control. And so really, and we're the community, the funds that we raise are raised here in the community by community folk and so to me and to my team, it's very, very important that those funds stay here and not go other places. We have a very small office. We all are volunteers right now. We don't get paid. But it's very, very important for us to use the money to make a difference by saving lives. And so, that's why we work to take care of our community.
Gina: So, there are some national organizations that people can give to, and that's what you're talking about in terms of keeping that money here.
Joy: Yep. You know any overhead expense we have is going to be minimal. The really nice thing is, I'm very relationship based. I love people and if I can talk to you, if I can put my arms around you, if I can give you or your family a hug, if I can go sit with you during surgery or something, you know, sometimes that means as much as the financial assistance. And so if you are six hours away, you know, three states away, I can't do that. So if I can just help to provide some comfort to people here in our immediate community, that's all I can do, and just hope somebody else somewhere will take care of those other folks right.
Transcription assistance from PopUpArchive and Lindsay Wright