In hospitality circles, the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival is termed a “friends and family event” – a focus for the reunion of far-flung loved ones. For Bloomington realtor Karen Pitkin, it is always an opportunity to share a weekend of music and dance.

“When we first moved from San Francisco to Bloomington, we were just taking time to explore what our next options might be,” Pitkin explains. “We found a place that was lively and diverse and with a music event that compares favorably to – or is even better than – other festivals we’ve attended throughout the U.S.”

During Lotus, you may find yourself dancing next to Karen and her husband Kurt in one of the large performance tents. “I appreciate being able to see the individual artists in more intimate settings, but what I really love are the big, raucous party bands and going crazy right in the middle of a big crowd,” Pitkin laughs. “Balkan Beat Box, March Fourth Marching Band, Nomo, Red Baraat – all incredibly fun, and seeing the tango group Bajofondo a couple of years ago was just spectacular, visually extraordinary – I’d never been a fan of tango before, and this was a real door-opening experience!”

Red Baraat at last year's Lotus. Photo by Levi Thomas.

In addition to being a fan and Festival sponsor as a broker with RE/MAX Realty Professionals, Karen buys tickets each year for San Francisco friends who travel to Bloomington to share what she calls our “love affair with Lotus.”

“It’s part of my support for an incredible community asset,” she asserts. “I also love going to the free events at Lotus in the Park with our son – ‘I made this, I saw that’ – and in the days following the Festival running into people and talking about those special things the we did see and didn’t see.”

One thing Karen enjoys is how welcoming downtown businesses are to the influx of people dining, having a quick drink, and resting between performances. Joining in the 2010 Festival parade, she remembers, “We were cheered by outdoor diners on 4th and Kirkwood who clearly loved all this music and dancing and color and incredible energy flowing by them.”

Craft tent at Lotus in the Park. Photo by Michael Redman.

As part of what she calls her “community service,” Karen takes IU and local business candidates who would be relocating to Bloomington on a tour, showing them different neighborhoods and recreation sites, and talking about the cultural opportunities. “Lotus is always part of that conversation, and the Farmers’ Market, and local community events where people turn out to enjoy music, food, and being connected. It is so much of what I love about living here.”

Karen says that her practice with RE/MAX “is the opposite of a niche market. My client base is very diverse – socially, in terms of age and finances, whether urban or rural. My business allows me to make great connections with a variety of people both here and outside of Bloomington.”

Not unlike the Festival, but without the dancing.

More about Karen Pitkin here