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Mountain Home Magazine

The Other Health Fair

Fragmented. Isolated. Stressed. Over-medicated.

Reverend Rowena Gibbons has long felt that traditional medicine did not offer all that is needed to address the health conditions so prevalent among Americans. “We have never been so disconnected, as a people, from the land, the seasons, from nature, from our food source. We are more sedentary. Our families are more scattered. We certainly, in the history of the world, have never been so medicated. The result is people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

She explored the world of alternative therapy and found her second passion. And so the pastor of St. James Episcopal Church in Mansfield went on to become a certified holistic health coach, administering to the body as well as the spirit.

A few months ago, an anonymous benefactor approached her about a specific use for their donation. Reverend Gibbons was asked to consider creating, in the donor’s words, “an alternative health event that would give exposure to some of the local resources available to people seeking a healing, vibrant way of life.”

The unnamed person was a passionate follower of the Mansfield Farmer’s Market, an event that had been sown and grown by the St. James congregation, which he felt was “the heartbeat of the community. Everyone benefitted from having a way to buy wholesome, locally grown meat and produce.”

Sensing a kindred spirit in Rev. Gibbons, the individual challenged her to invent a happening that educates and celebrates healthy living.

“The idea took off like wildfire,” Rev. Gibbons said. “We tried to be selective about our vendors, and we found a treasure of local experts in various alternative modalities.”

Dubbed The Other Health Fair, the April 30 event is part education, part hands-on experience to showcase the techniques and treatments meant to compliment traditional medicine. The campus of St. James church will host the happening.

“I am in no way saying that traditional medicine isn’t appropriate for some people. It absolutely is. If you are diabetic, by all means, take your medication and follow your doctor’s orders. But, there might be other ideas to support your overall health that will work in concert with mainstream medicine. We want to raise that awareness.”

A lot of folks are familiar with yoga and massage as healthy ideas, but The Other Health Fair seeks to educate about specific kinds of yoga meant to address health concerns and types of massage as part of chronic pain management. Acupuncture, healing touch, biofeedback, aroma-therapy, herbs, music therapy, food as medicine, and other less-than-main-stream concepts will be on display. Practitioners will answer questions and demonstrate their craft.

“Not a lot of people know about Naturopathic doctors or how they have been using herbs and homeopathy to address illness, pain, and emotional issues since the mid-1800s.” In fact, one such practitioner, Dr. Gregory Pais, is heading to Mansfield from Colorado to deliver the day’s keynote address at 9 a.m.

The response from those asked to participate was swift and positive. “Not one practitioner said no,” said Rev. Gibbons. Among those on board are acupuncturist Linda Spencer, herbalist Diane Fiorentino, healing touch practitioner Nancy Dart, and yoga teacher Kathleen Thompson.

The classes offered at The Other Health Fair range from understanding the positive energy of Reiki to a Native American drumming group, who will drum all day as well as provide drum healing for individuals, a class on Native American Healing, and a drum circle as part of the closing ceremony.

The day will include a lunch from local, organic food producers, prepared by the same team at St. James that creates their annual tasting dinners. For a nominal fee, fairgoers are invited to partake, but, recognizing possible concerns about food allergies, fairgoers are also welcome to bring their own meals.

The overall theme of the day is to get people thinking that there is more to their health than just the physical aspect. “Spirituality is a part of everything. Not necessarily religion, but something more intuitive is connected to our health, our emotional well-being, our mental function,” says Rev. Gibbons. “And it can be addressed through so many therapies that most people aren’t even aware of.”

All are invited to come, explore, learn, and discover a new world of options that just might lead to a new world of healing. 

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