Music festivals rest on the pillars of love, acceptance, and community. We buy the ticket because we love live music, dancing with friends, and finding a space in time to blossom into our freest form of expression. In the United States, Inclusion Festival is the first of its kind. A festival for people with and without special needs, it was “inspired by people with autism, but is not only for that population.”
“It is a place where people from all walks of life can share space and learn from one another in a festival environment that is warm, welcoming, and accepting,” explained Amy Pinder.
Pinder is a speech-language therapist and co-founded Inclusion together with Leah Barron, a special education teacher and yoga instructor. Her and Barron had met at a festival themselves, where they found that they shared the same vision of putting on such an event.
The 2019 event will be Inclusion’s second year, returning to Mountain Sky Festival Grounds in Jermyn, PA the weekend of August 9 to 11. Pinder said that last year’s turnout was stunning, holding an equal balance of festival regulars and those experiencing the festival environment for the first time.
Start Making Sense is one of the most revered Talking Heads tribute bands in the country and headline the weekend. Hayley Jane and the Primates share the spotlight with their pairing of soulful rock and Hayley Jane’s captivating theatrics. Inclusion is one of few remaining dates to catch the group’s extraordinarily unique performance before their indefinite hiatus announced earlier this year. Philadelphia funk collective Swift Technique, Brooklyn’s Cousin Earth, and Miz all follow the bill, lighting up the night after a filled schedule of daytime acts and workshops.
In some way or another, every act falls in harmony with Inclusion’s purpose: whether it be a performer that has a relative or friend with special needs or the performer themselves—like family trio The Pretty Crazies whose daughter with Down Syndrome loves to dance on stage.
These connections have encouraged musical artists from Start Making Sense and Hayley Jane and the Primates to engage beyond the stage and tailor their own workshops for the weekend.
Inclusion balances the opportunity for relaxation, fun, and learning: their workshops creating a space for all three.
Multiple workshops are to be led by Taraleigh Weathers, a public speaker, published author, and all-around advocate on how to bring the magic of a music festival into your everyday life. She will be participating throughout the weekend with yoga jams and other movement-based sessions.
Benjamin Berry, Hooping.org’s 2018 Male Hooper of the Year, will be conducting workshops using his certification in Holistic Circus Therapy. He will be teaching flow classes with a therapeutic approach, welcoming all levels to participate.
“Our intention [last year] was to show people things that they can take home, so it’s not just a weekend-long event, but something that people can learn from…and there was a lot of evidence of that really happening,” Pinder said.
The festival itself is laid out in a way to reduce crowding, and sets are played at a lower volume without strobe lights to accommodate guests with sensory sensitivities. These variations to the typical festival performance create a comfortable environment for everyone. Inclusion is bringing a lineup of distinguished acts into their atmosphere of love and acceptance, creating a significant place within our music festival world.
Learn more about Inclusion Festival and find tickets at www.inclusionfestival.com.