Second annual Human Power Festival encourages outdoor activity

Mountain Challenge hosted its second human power festival on Oct. 20, following the rousing success of last year’s inaugural event. Bruce Guillaume, Mountain Challenge’s founder and director, originally conceptualized the festival to promote being active in the outdoors in conjunction with a celebration of Mountain Challenge’s 25th Anniversary.

The outdoor jubilee featured vendors that promote outdoor activities, such as Little River Trading Company & Cycology Bicycles Parks & Recreation and Blount BEneFITs and local restaurants, such as Vienna Coffee House, provided refreshments for the attendants. Mountain Challenge’s signature Alpine Tower and bouldering cave were open for climbing and other activities, such as slack lining and corn hole, were also available for participation. The Common Man Band rounded out the festivities with acoustic country tunes that had participants humming and tapping their feet.

As Maryville College and the surrounding community become more invested in the joint resolutions to increase physical activity and time spent outdoors, Guillaume said he decided to host the festival again in hopes of making it an annual event.

“It’s a way to bring people out and let them have a whole bunch of fun doing active stuff outside,” Guillaume said.

Guillaume said he hopes the festival brings a sense of enthusiasm to the more earnest notions of fitness and environmentalism.

“The hope is that by having fun we can realize how important all of this is and maybe continue to do some of it,” Guillaume said.

Crawford House’s recent LEED Gold certification and Mountain Challenge’s B Corporation accreditation further fueled the gusto behind this year’s festival. These accolades were awarded earlier in the spring and revealed at Mountain Challenge’s 25th Anniversary ceremony in April. Additionally, this year’s tower climb harbored an incentive beyond promoting physical activity, raising money for breast cancer research.

Participants were encouraged to “Climb Above Cancer” and make a donation to support the cause. Pink ribbon pins were given out to climbers and attendees in memory or support of loved ones battling cancer. T-shirts were sold, and proceeds from the sales went to benefit the Thompson Cancer Survival Center Foundation.

According to Hanna Morgan, sophomore Mountain Challenge fellow, the purpose and impact of the festival was clear.

“[It] gave students as well as people from the community a chance to come by and see some of the opportunities for getting active,” Morgan said. “And I think it celebrates how fulfilling and beneficial it is to use your own mind and body to do something fun.”

Those who have been through Mountain Challenge’s various activities know they like to use metaphors.

Though participants may just feel like they are eating great food, hanging out (literally) and having a lot of fun, the subliminal takeaways are both real and profound. Physical and emotional health, environmental sustainability and social responsibility are meaningful concepts that Mountain Challenge takes to heart and seeks to promote; hence, it was a celebration of human power.

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