Last year, certified massage therapist Myra Wang had an idea. She envisioned wellness professionals gathering to share their skills and specialties, with the added benefit of showing people what an extensive health and wellness community Excelsior has to offer.
Wang, who was Excelsior’s 2016 Chamber of Commerce president, wasted no time in reaching out to several close associates, and plans for the first expo were off and running. Nicole Lovald, owner of Spirit of the Lake Yoga Studio, was one of the initial planners.
“There are so many local businesses that care about health and so many different people who really want to reach out,” Lovald says. “You don’t realize how many amazing people we have around us who offer really cool ideas.” These included essential oil companies, chiropractors, holistic health practitioners, clothing geared toward fitness, a farmer from the local farmers market, a raw-food chef, Lakewinds Food Co-op, Pilates and yoga instructors, nutritionists and more.
“Health and wellness is a hot topic for people these days, and people are more interested in embracing their health in a holistic way,” Lovald says. So the newly formed committee got to work finding the vendors and sponsors who would make their vision a reality.
After three months of whirlwind planning, the first expo took place right off the walking/biking trail at Pique Travel Design, and passersby who saw the vendors were intrigued. Various 30-minute sessions were held outside — Tabata, yoga class and other activities. The free samples were a big hit, too, as attendees sampled smoothies, juices, food and organic wine.
Another facet of the expo was the money it raised for a local foundation. As Chamber of Commerce president, Wang was very involved with the community, and wanted the event to give back to an organization in their area. All the vendors donated a gift for a raffle, and together with sponsor and vendor fees, they raised almost $2,000 for Open Hands Foundation. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Emily Program, which helps treat eating disorders. “I love [the Emily Foundation’s] work and I’m excited to be teaming up with them this year,” Wang says.
Both Lovald and Wang agree that the response to the first expo was overwhelmingly positive. “People loved it,” Lovald says. Attendees enjoyed the family-friendly atmosphere, things for kids to see and do, and of course, the giveaways and free food.
Wellness coach Becky Mittlestaedt was a vendor last year and plans to participate again this year. She says, “Come explore all the businesses that are available in the community! It’s a great event.”
This year’s expo will be May 7 from noon to 4 p.m. at Pique Travel, 362 Third St., Excelsior.