As the 26th Lotus World Music Festival is set to begin in just a few days, I have been thinking a lot about the event. The staff is working long hours to ensure each band safely arrives, each venue is properly set up and each volunteer knows exactly what to do. This year will be my 7th Lotus Fest – a newbie compared to many in Bloomington. I look forward to the weekend every year, but this one is special. Why? I’ve learned some things.
Lotus is Community
I joined the Lotus Board this year as a new Bloomington resident and discovered what I feel is the essence of the organization – community. Community in a local sense, with a 26 year history of locals serving on its Board, volunteering at the festival, and offering financial support. Yet, right now, it may be even more important that Lotus creates a community in a broader sense, recognizing and celebrating varying world cultures and how they serve as a common thread between us all. Music is something we can all share and enjoy, regardless of our beliefs and backgrounds. Right now, our country, potentially even our world, needs more opportunities to understand each other like Lotus Festival.
Lotus is Education
While the Festival is Lotus’ signature event, the organization is working throughout the year to bring world musicians to Southern Indiana schools. In 2019, six musicians and groups from all over the world visited our elementary schools to talk to and perform for kids who may have never left the region. I had the honor of shadowing Alash, Tuvan musicians who specialize in throat singing and indigenous instruments. The children admired the odd instruments and danced in their seats during the performance. They learned about Tuva- do you know anything about Tuva?! I didn’t but now I do. And the music was different, beautiful and accessible. Just like the performers. How lucky is our community to have an organization that offers our children (and us) this kind of rich educational experience?
Lotus is Fun!
While I knew this already, participating in the behind the scenes aspect of the festival has given me a greater appreciation of the event. Wandering the streets of Bloomington, popping into live concerts with musicians from all over the world, dancing in the Park (and this year, the Meadow), enjoying good food and beer, and running into friends all along the way is THE BEST way to spend the last long weekend in September! If you haven’t already, buy your ticket today! I’ll see you there.