Can you feel it? The slightly tingly energy beginning to build?
You’re not imagining things. It’s simply the hearts, minds, and intentions of everyone involved with the Natural Connections Holistic Health Fair revving up for the annual event.
Now a hallmark of Marquette’s spring calendar, the fair had more modest beginnings at the Ramada Inn in 2000 under the guidance of a handful of people who wanted to bring holistic practitioners together in one place so residents could see what’s offered in the holistic/alternative medicine scene. It’s now sponsored by the nonprofit group Natural Connections (previously Integrative Health Resources)—a volunteer organization formed in 2005 dedicated to connecting the community with integrative services and information.
Former NC board president Diana Oman says in the early years it was exciting to offer massage therapists, reiki practitioners, healing touch, nutritionists, and chiropractors in one place to those who were interested in various healing modalities. It opened attendees’ eyes to other methods of getting—and staying—healthy. “One location, several practitioners, several modalities, several products, so if a person is a little bit curious they can go there and gather a whole bunch of information on one day,” she says.
Yet finding a place to hold the fair wasn’t always easy. Organizers moved it from site to site in an effort to find the perfect niche: Upfront & Company, Northern Michigan University, the Holiday Inn, the Marquette Armory, even the lower level of the Masonic Square Mall. NC struck gold when it found its current home, the Masonic Center in downtown Marquette. The space has allowed the fair to grow by leaps and bounds says Roslyn McGrath, current Natural Connections president. When it first began, about 100 people walked through the fair. Last year more than 600 people attended. “I’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of interest in the fair, both by vendors and community members, as well as those coming from a distance to the fair,” Roslyn says. The number of vendors showcasing their services has increased, as well. Over the last several years anywhere from 40 to 45 different vendors have participated at a time. “It’s still scratching the surface, because not everybody who offers a holistic modality is at the fair,” Roslyn notes.
But why are so many people being drawn to the fair? “I think there’s a lot to a human being,” Roslyn states, “and as time has gone on, people have realized more and more that medical offerings alone are not fulfilling all of their needs for health and wellness. They are looking for more or a different approach to integrate with what they’re already doing or looking for something that’s going to jumpstart them, motivate them, help them stay on track, perhaps, with those medical and non-medical choices for their wellness and health.”
Fair attendee Sally Moilanen agrees. “One thing I’ve learned with attending these types of things [is] it’s so overwhelming to learn that there is so much more natural healing we can do for our bodies and our minds versus going to a pill and using pharmaceuticals,” she says, “and that’s a really big eye-opener. And I think more people need to be aware of what else is out there besides your traditional medicine.”
Acupuncture has made its way into the fair, along with personal fitness trainers, healing art, yoga, Emotional Freedom Technique, energy field healing, intuitive counseling, sound healing, yoga therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, reflexology, and astrological counseling.
And under the nurturing of Natural Connections, the Holistic Health Fair has grown to offer more than just services. Vendors now also sell essential oils, organic food products, soaps, nutritional supplements, natural body care products, jewelry, and much more. Presentations on various topics are held throughout the day to more thoroughly explain different modalities, and several door prizes are given away each hour.
Sally Moilanen says she was incredibly impressed with last year’s fair. “Everybody took their time with you and made you feel special and made their time with you all about you, which was amazing,” she says. Now that she’s had a taste, she’s coming back to Marquette for the 2019 edition. “I wouldn’t miss it. I think that’s just something that’s going to be on my calendar going forward, for as long as they’re going to have it. It was amazing.”
Roslyn says the Holistic Health Fair has become a unique part of a distinctive region. “I think it’s important that all the community really know how special this area is for having so many truly sincerely committed, skilled people who are willing and able to help them feel good, enjoy their lives more, be more fulfilled, and make strides with health issues that they may have going on, as well as helping to prevent future ones,” she says. “People often say what a special area this is and how wonderful people are overall, and that’s true, and that’s also reflected in this microcosm of the holistic community.”
Norway Springs is providing water for attendees free of charge this year, and Travel Marquette is helping to sponsor the fair, financially and marketing-wise. “We are beyond grateful that they recognize the value of what we offer and how it is bringing more people into Marquette for the event, and that this is something important for our community,” says Roslyn.
The 20th Annual Spring Holistic Health Fair will be held Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the third floor of Marquette’s Masonic Center, next to the Masonic Square Mall. For more information or to pre-order a fair T-shirt, go to http://naturalconnectionsmarquette.com or http://Facebook.com/ncmarquette.
Nicole is a writer and radio host who loves living in Marquette.
Adapted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.