On the Way to Wellness

feed your mind, body, and mouth at the third annual wellfest

Barbara Arnold

Calling all foodies, health nuts, fitness freaks, and wellness geeks! Think you are living healthfully? Prove it! Post a photo here, and you could win a healthy gift basket, fun prizes, or tickets for you and four friends to the third annual Chippewa Valley WellFEST. WellFEST – a gathering of the area’s wellness experts – will be held at the newly opened Lismore Hotel, 205 S. Barstow St., from 5-9pm Friday, Feb. 26, and from 9am-5pm Saturday, Feb. 27.

New this year is a Friday night pre-WellFEST bash, which will kick off with a keynote about mindfulness by Ann Brand, Ph.D., meditation leader from The Center in Eau Claire, and will cap off with a locally sourced food and wine pairing by renowned chef Nathan Berg. In between the keynote and the food and wine, two programs will be offered: A “Foodie Forum” will feature Berg; Inga Witscher, host of Wisconsin Public Television’s Around the Farm Table; Kristina Buening, owner of the Sunbow Farm; and Eau Claire City Council member (and serious foodie) Andrew Werthmann. At the same time, there will be a mixed medicine panel including Sharat Ahluwalia, a Marshfield Clinic neurologist; chiropractor Daniel Czelatdko, known for his “Wellness Wednesdays” on WQOW-TV; health-centered dentist John Laughlin; Chastity Drake, owner of First Things First Counseling and Consulting; and Barbara Wheeler, owner of Elements of Healthcare.

Saturday’s program will have two tracks to attend while also providing a “Mood Food Hall” in which food crafters will provide samples to taste and food to buy for local foodies. “Hands On Hall” learning labs will feature presentations by Christine Varnavas, WellFEST creator; Caroline Reese, a reiki master; Carleen Sterner, a family medicine physician, reiki master, and Ayurvedic medicine and laughter yoga practitioner; Lee Ann Richards, who teaches restorative yoga; and others. Meanwhile, the “Minds On Hall” will feature learning briefs from chiropractor Michael Court, owner of Chippewa Valley Wellness; Heather Mischefke, and owner of emBARK; Heidi Toy, nutritional therapy practitioner, with more to come. Participants can go back and forth between the two tracks while listening to live local musicians. Singer-songwriter Paul Bonstrom, will perform Saturday morning, while AcoustiHoo will play from 1-3pm. Back by popular demand is henna/mehndi artist Lori Chilfone, and there will be plenty of fun, interactive activities for kids.

Event founder and curator Christine Varnavas makes this worthy event happen every year with what she calls “an amazing team of volunteers who truly care about healthy lifestyles.”

“We’re thrilled to be at the newest venue in town,” she added. “Plus, it’s on the bus line and easy access from the college, too.”

Only 75 tickets will be sold for the pre-WellFEST bash on Friday evening, and they must be bought in advance. Tickets are $50 per person for both the Friday night pre-event bash and all day Saturday. Saturday by itself is $15 per person, $25 for a family of four, and $5 for students with student ID. Children under 10 are free. Saturday tickets will be available on the website as well as at the door the day of the event.

Chippewa Valley WellFEST • facebook.com/ChippewaValleyWellfest • chippewavalleywellfest.org • (715) 828-3378