On Saturday, July 9, The Happiness Project Music Festival was held at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford. A fundraiser for providing support for mental health awareness, the event brought together independent musicians, local vendors and local non-profit organizations to help put each one in the spotlight.
As the day progressed, 32 performers from seven different states on three different stages, 25 non-profit organizations and 13 vendors all came together to make the first annual Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford. Participants made this festival the organization’s largest festival they have carried out to date.
“Our goal is always to combine local music with local non-profit groups and vendors to provide community outreach,” said Jadon Burlew, Co-Founder/Co-Organizer of The Happiness Project Music Festival. “My favorite part of the day was just hearing everyone who attended or participated in the event comment about how great the scope of the event was, how everyone felt included and part of the event, and how happy they were with the turnout and the positive vibes that we were promoting throughout the day. We also had a lot of feedback about how talented all the musicians were, which was great since they all traveled from various distances to donate their time.”
The Happiness Project Music Festival specifically supports mental health awareness, but includes a lot of other non-profits that are relatable to mental health. They were able to provide one area for multiple non-profits to do a lot of community outreach, and delivered a fun, safe, community event that was enjoyed by all.
“I hope everyone who attended either made a connection with a non-profit organization that they’d like to be part of or that can offer them help, found a local vendor that they want to support, or heard music from an artist that they want to follow now,” said Burlew. “If we’ve just made a few of those connections than we’ve done our job and accomplished what we set out to do. Just making people more aware of some of these non-profit organizations helps both people and the organization a lot. And for musicians to be able to get their name out in a new location or in front of a new crowd helps them strengthen their fan base and continue with their independent career.”
Among festival vendors was local Colby Johnson, a thirteen-year-old Milford resident that has quite an entrepreneurial spirit. Enjoying wildlife photography from as early as second grade, Colby was selling his photography at the outdoor festival alongside his special recipe for water ice. In addition to his grass cutting business, Colby’s funds from the festival were going towards a trip for him to enjoy an expedition in Africa.
“I want to learn new things and see how other people live,” said Colby when describing his hopes for traveling to another continent. “People have to make and catch their own food, build their home and get their own water. I hope to be able to go next year.”
Event organizers hope that this event and the organization can get the topic of mental health out to the public and make it less taboo. “So many people are afraid to reach out for help because they don’t think they can talk about it and they don’t realize that there are a lot of other people who are going through what they are going through, or who have made it through what they are going through, and can provide help,” said Burlew. “We hope that anyone struggling with a mental health illness or condition, or know someone that is, is able to get information or help from one of the non-profit organizations.”
The Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford was the organization’s third full-day music festival in a year and a half, and they are looking at doing this just once a year from this point on. Although organizers cannot guarantee that it will be at Avenue United Methodist Church again, they stated that they would love for it to remain in Milford.
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