Memorial Day weekend festival debuts at Surprise Lake Camp
By Alison Rooney
Sometimes, ideas take shape from proximity. David Marzollo spends a great deal of time with a yoga studio owner. Melia Marzollo spends that same time with a music festival organizer. As a married couple whose entrepreneurial flair has been directed into different fields, the two realized that these fields could be complementary.
As an experiment, last year Melia, who owns and runs Cold Spring’s Skybaby Yoga and Pilates, started and ran a “wellness village” at Dave’s Catskill Chill music festival. To her surprise, over 200 people made use of the facility, located smack in the middle of festival, demonstrating the need, she said, “to quiet down amidst it all. We offered massage therapy, sound healing, aromatherapy, a teahouse, a place to buy produce, somewhere to lie down, meditate. It was never empty and it created a different vibe for the festival.”
Dave said: “When we saw so many sign up, over two separate days, we realized how big this could be … People think music-lovers are one group of people and yoga-lovers are another, but we’ve found they’re often the same people.” Taking measure of this success, and each having helped the other in their respective businesses, they decided to combine forces and create a blend of the two. The result is a very ambitious, two-day, three-night event called MAYfest, the MAY an acronym for “music, art and yoga.” It will take place over the Memorial Day weekend, May 22 to 24, at Cold Spring’s Surprise Lake Camp.
There, a crowd of what the Marzollos are hoping will be 300 to 500 — they’re fully aware that this is a first-year endeavor with all the uncertainty that goes along with it — can partake of a huge lineup in all three areas. According to advance material, “Festivalgoers will immerse themselves into their yoga practice, their love for music and their desire to explore their creative side. Attendees can spend the entire weekend at the serene lakeside setting, visit for the day, or just come at night for the music.”
Melia said, “It’s a homegrown festival where people get to go back to camp.”
What they’ve devised will take place over the course of Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. Patrons, whom they envision will come from far and wide, a mix of overnighters, day-trippers and locals, will be able to fine-tune their selections by interests and how long they are staying, and can choose up to four classes per day. Shuttles will bring attendees from the train station up to the camp, and accommodation options, for those who need it, include on-site cabin rentals, bunkhouses or tent spots.
For those who like things less rustic, there will also be hotel shuttle runs to Fishkill. Although the festival ends on Sunday, people can stay overnight and depart Monday morning. There are a variety of meal plans available, in addition to independent food vendors for more on-the-fly eating. There will also be craft, clothing and jewelry vendors. A Skybaby Healing Tent will offer tarot readings, polarity demonstrations and advice sessions on how to use medicinals and other ayurvedic remedies.
Buying a ticket (online, through the festival’s site) automatically creates a “schedule builder” on which to make selections. The purchase provides access to all of the music. There is a selection of passes: full weekend, one-day, one-class, etc. The yoga classes will be taught by both world-renowned and local instructors, according to Melia, offered sunrise to sunset in multiple locations. There will also be a workshop on photographing yoga. Garrison Art Center will provide all of the many art classes, which include origami, block printing, book making and landscape painting. All yoga and art classes will be held outdoors when possible, but with alternate, indoor locations should Mother Nature not cooperate.
Physical activities are by no means limited to yoga. Taking advantage of Surprise Lake Camp’s location and amenities, there will be guided hikes and foraging excursions, canoeing, “beach” parties, open basketball courts, as well as standup paddleboard yoga, qigong and outdoor meditation.
“We’re offering activities which celebrate being alive … At some yoga festivals it’s just yoga. Here you can be someone who doesn’t like one particular element and that’s fine; there’s always something else you can do at that time,” Melia noted.
Music will be varied, with a 16-band lineup and each band bringing, according to Dave, “something unique and pertinent.” There’ll be some rock ’n’ roll, bluegrass and world music, along with yogi DJs.
Children and teenagers are welcome, with programming for both age groups taking place at the “kids’ canteen,” which has a collection of table and board games, sports, arts and crafts, storytelling and an evening slumber party where kids are cared for by “nannies” while their parents go and listen to music. Children under 12 can’t come without parents, and all children will be signed in and given an ID bracelet. There will be some classes geared to teenagers, and they are also welcome to attend any of the adult classes as well as partake of all the outdoor activities and simply hang out at the canteens and listen to music or watch films at night.
“This represents the two of us — our first complete collaboration” Melia said. “Dave’s music-land and I’m yoga-land; there’s a yin and a yang. We wanted to create something new and bring it home to where we live.”
With his background organizing the Catskill Chill Festival, which attracts over 5,000 people to a three-day event each September, David handled the music bookings, while Melia lined up teachers, some brought in from connecting with other regional studios, the idea being to “deepen the web, not to be competitive,” she explained.
The Marzollos are excited about MAYfest and are certain the community will embrace it as well. “What we’re offering, in terms of cost, is hopefully affordable for your family,” Melia said.
For full information on packages, costs and the complete schedule of workshops, teachers and musical acts, visit mayfestny.com or Facebook.