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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

The Birth of WellFEST

by Christine Varnavas

What is a WellFEST? It’s simple. It’s a gathering of like-minded wellness professionals, brought together to give the Chippewa Valley a taste of the amazingly cool wellness people and services we have in our area.

When I’m asked how WellFEST was born, I picture a caricature of myself with my big brown curly hair flying in all different directions. Mixed in with the curls are curvy (like word art) words: food, fitness, fun, travel, yoga, spinning, music, wellness, laughter, movement, and more, flying out of my brain. I have so many things I love to do and a few things I’m really good at doing. When I used to teach Career Development to high school juniors and seniors, my tag line was, “Put what you like to do with what you’re good at and that’s your career”. What’s the saying? Be careful what you put out there? After taking about a five-minute inventory of what I like to do and what I’m good at, it was like the universe reached out, smacked me on the head, and said, “Duh! Create an event (I love planning) that brings together all the really cool wellness people you know, turn it into an area-wide party, have food, showcase these experts in their field, and show them off to others who may or may not know. It has to be the coolest thing ever.” My fitness/wellness brain said, “It has to showcase all types of wellness,” and my foodie brain said, “We have to have good food and it has to be FUN”. I ran it by my family and some of my amazing friends and colleagues that I’ve grown to cherish and respect over the years, and it was unanimous. They all said, “I love it”…and I ran with it.

Showcasing the Best of the Best in the Chippewa Valley

All day long, Florian Gardens will be buzzing with energy, excitement and action.  Don’t miss out on the hands on and active presenters we will be having all day long.  Doors open at 10 a.m.  If I were you, I’d just plan on staying for the entire day!! See ya there!

• Sports Nutrition Getting into shape, losing weight or competing is less about the exercise and more about the food one eats. Learn with Dr. Dan Czelatdko, which foods and supplements are most beneficial to you.

• Healing with Hypnosis Richard Marano, B.S., C.H. from the Hypnosis Center of Eau Claire, Est. 2002 will delight you with the truth about hypnosis and how it can change your life for the better! Richard has helped thousands over the years gain their true potential. Plan to stop by!

• The Importance of Fermented Foods How your gut flora directs your immune system. Heidi Toy will discuss how 80 percent of our immune system is located in our guts due to beneficial bacteria. Historically our ancestors got their probiotics by consuming fermented foods, not pills. Fermented foods contain 10 trillion colony forming units versus a pill with only 10 billion. Come find out the benefits of supporting your immune system with food.

• The Power of Ceremony Ceremonial healers, known as shamans and medicine people, are found throughout the world, throughout history.  The shaman heals by first enhancing the client’s personal power, restoring lost soul, and clearing intrusions.  Join Lee Hilfiker, Shamanic Practitioner, Professional Counselor at for more on the Power of Ceremony.

• Ease Your Stress How does stress impact your mental and physical health? Chastity Drake will showcase how stress impacts you health, 8 ways to manage your stress, and a quick demonstration of one technique and a short explanation on how it works.

• Energy Sensing Judy Meinen, RN, HTP, Reiki Master, owner of Angel Care Healing Touch where she provides a buffet of Wellness and Spiritual Services. Judy also does workshops, private parties, public events and phone sessions. You will feel your bioelectromagnetic field, or “life force”; explore it, and feel it in others.

• Hormone Hell Hormones play a huge role in our health and in illness. Knowing what’s wrong and what to do is half the battle. Become active in your health and feel better today with help from Dr. Czelatdko.

• Active Health Chiropractic Enjoy an eye opening presentation revealing the secrets of brain health and walking patterns.  Doctors John and Judy Soborowicz at Active Health practice chiropractic based on movement patterns. Find out how our brain is key to expressing a stronger more adaptable vitality.  Join us for an inspiring glimpse of the foundations of movement and brain health!

• Loving-Kindness Meditation Learn to bring more peace, joy, and compassion into your life and others’ with this mindfulness tool. Robin Brauner has been practicing forms of meditation through her massage therapy career since 2001, her yoga practice since 1996, and formally with Buddhist teachers since 2005.

• Body Weight Training (Calisthenics) The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek kallos, which means beauty, and sthénos meaning strength. It is the art of using your own body weight to develop your body, improve your fitness, and improve your quality of life. Join Benji in a total body workout using the only asset that you are guaranteed to have your entire life; your own body.

• Animal Wellness Dr. Margaret Meier from the Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley in Mondovi, WI will be speaking on the lost art of intuition in healing, and how we can use our own intuition to help our two and four legged companions be free of disease.

• Complete Tai Chi Experience Tai Chi—a mind, body, and spirit art contributing to your total wellness. Master Jeremy Buchholz will demonstrate and teach a few basics, giving you a taste of this ancient art known for slow, relaxing techniques. Jeremy, founder of One Tree Martial Arts, is also a 2013 inductee to the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

• Are Your Vitamins Killing You? Life is never as simple as it seems.  If vitamins are so good for us, why do many research studies conclude otherwise? Attend Chippewa Valley Wellness’s Dr. Michael Court’s interactive workshop to hear what your vitamin-representative may never tell you AND what you can do about it.  He looks forward to meeting YOU at WellFest!!

• Acupuncture: Who’s In? Join Casey Castona for a look into Battlefield Acupuncture, a technique widely used for pain management, that uses five needles in the ear. Casey is nationally certified in acupuncture and holds his master’s degree in science and Oriental medicine, a bachelor’ degree in science in nutrition, and a master certificate in acupuncture. Much to his credit he also was an active-duty medic in Kosovo and has worked with armed services special forces using acupuncture as a pain-management tool.

• Keep Smiling… Laughter yoga is a mind-body practice based on the extensive health benefits of laughter.  Dr Mahad Khataria started laughter yoga in a park in Mumbai, India, with five people; there are now some 7,000 laughter yoga clubs in over seventy countries. Join Drs. Jodi Ritsch and Carleen Sterner, family physicians, who believe in a whole-person mind- body- spirit approach to health and wellbeing for some giggles!

• And More… Also showcasing the best of the Chippewa Valley are Sandra Helpsmeet from the Yoga Center, Gold’s Gym with Drums Alive, Health Centered Dentistry from River Falls, Kathy McAlister with Chair Massage and Highland Fitness.

Celebrity Chef in Action

Nathan Berg started his culinary career as a dishwasher back in the early 1990’s. He learned the crafts of the kitchen from the inside, moving ‘up the ladder’ and into nicer and nicer restaurants around the country. In 2003, he was the Chef Intern at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, getting intensive training working with fresh, organic produce and local ingredients. He then worked at the critically acclaimed Harvest in Madison, WI for a couple of years before moving back to his hometown of Chippewa Falls to open Native Bay Restaurant.

Since closing Native Bay in 2008, Berg has been the head chef at both Canoe Bay and The Creamery. He has also served as Chef Ambassador for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, preaching the gospel of artisinal Wisconsin cheese to the masses. In 2006, he was selected as one of only 100 chefs from the United States at Terre Madre, an incredible culinary event held bi-annually in Turin, Italy by Slow Food International.

So don’t miss him at WellFEST as he demonstrates and gives out samples of good, quality food made with local ingredients.  A passion he so loves to share with his community.

Berg is currently in the process of opening a new restaurant in Chippewa Falls called Four Chairs. Learn more on Facebook/fourchairs

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