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Massage Today
July, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 07

World Massage Festival: A Wonderful Experience

By Laura Allen

I just got home from Kentucky after spending four days in Berea at the World Massage Festival. What a wonderful experience.

The World Massage Festival is a different kind of experience than most massage conventions, and deliberately so. Mike Hinkle, the founder, started the WMF five years ago as an alternative to association conventions. There are no politics, no committees, no delegates, no meetings, unless they're of the educational or social kind. Each year for the past five years, Mike has put the WMF on at a college campus. Lodging was available in the dorms for $20 a night. A meal package for a dozen meals in the college cafeteria went for $112. They catered to vegetarians, vegans, and the rest of us. For anyone who didn't want the college-type communal experience, there were plenty of reasonable hotels and local restaurants available. The absolutely gorgeous Historic Boone Tavern we stayed in was $99 per night.

World Massage Festival - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark In addition to over 50 classes being offered by cream of the crop instructors including: Ralph Stephens, James Walaski, Vivian Madison Mahoney, Ruthie Hardee, Terry Norman, and dozens more, there was also plenty of entertainment that didn't cost any extra. Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards President Kevin Snedden entertained everyone with a Poi fire demonstration. A comedian, a ventriloquist, and a folk musician also entertained. The closing ceremony was absolutely awesome. Medicine Women of their respective tribes Judy Ray and Janelle Lakman conducted a smudging and pipe ceremony for all who wished to participate. Ryan Hoyme, The Massage Nerd, videoed the Festival from start to finish, and made dozens of free commercials for anyone present who wanted one.

There was an induction ceremony Saturday night into the Hall of Fame for a dozen new members, followed by a great buffet provided by Massage Envy. Paul St. John gave the keynote speech.

I met up with old friends and made new ones. I was particularly pleased to meet so many Facebook friends, including: Mukti Michael Buck, Vivian Madison Mahoney, Darcy Neibaur, Lisa Mertz, and a whole lot more.

The North Carolina posse turned out for the event, including me, Felicia Brown, Anita Shannon, Claire Marie Miller, Dr. Mitchell Mosher, Gloria Coppola, Joe Martin, and Rick Rosen, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I taught three classes to a great group of people on Saturday and Sunday. There were lots of great vendors. Saturday night, instead of a dinner dance, there was a sock hop with a DJ spinning tunes.

Massage Today threw a great party after-hours that involved a few libations and a crowd of happy people. I stayed until after midnight and I heard it didn't break up until after 3 a.m.

Next year, this fabulous gathering is going to be held at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, in the middle of the beautiful Nantahala National Forest. The dorm rooms at WCU are new and modern. The cafeteria stays open 13 hours a day. Expanded vendor hours are going to happen. Fabulous teachers, great entertainment, and great education will happen once again.

When you consider that all of this was pulled off at the ridiculous price of less than $500 per student including meals and lodging, this was indeed an amazing event. I had a great time from start to finish, and I can't wait until next year. I hope to see you there!

Laura Allen is one of Massage Today's Women in Bodywork Business (WIBB) bloggers. For more on Laura Allen and the other WIBB bloggers click here.

Editor's note: See video of Massage Today Editor-in-Chief, Ramon McLeod accepting the 2010 Massage Therapy Media award for keeping the industry informed.

Laura Allen is a licensed massage therapist, the Massage Division Director of Soothing Touch, an Approved Provider of Continuing Education, and the author of five textbooks. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband Champ, also a licensed massage therapist, and their two rescue dogs.


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