By Page Leggett, Novant Health Healthy Headlines
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Summertime was made for outdoor festivals. And last summer, festivals were, for the most part, canceled. In states where large gatherings were allowed – North Carolina was not among them – any outdoor festival ran the risk of becoming a super-spreader event.
What a difference a year – and a vaccine – makes.
Festivals and outdoor concerts are back, and Novant Health leaders are so excited about it, they’ve planned a series of Welcome Back Fests in Charlotte, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Event dates and locations are:
Saturday, July 24, at Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte.
Saturday, Aug. 7, at Legion Sports Complex in Wilmington.
Saturday, Aug. 21, at Corpening Plaza in Winston-Salem.
All three events are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Festivalgoers can look forward to an array of entertainment options, games, activities, food trucks plus a very special headliner. Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Anthony Hamilton will perform at each event. Hamilton has been a Novant Health partner since early in the pandemic. Last year, he recorded a musical public service announcement to promote social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone, with a few exceptions, 12 and older be vaccinated. For those too young to be vaccinated or those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, masks are strongly encouraged. Even outdoors.
An outdoor festival may seem like it’s nothing but a good time, but there are actual health benefits associated with them. A few ways festivals are good for you:
Walking is good for your heart. Unless you have mobility issues, you are probably going to be spending a lot of time walking at a festival. It’s a great way to get steps in – and it doesn’t even feel like work.
Hearing live music is a mood elevator. And it may also help you live longer. “You already know how going to a really great concert can improve your mood,” wrote AARP in 2018. “But … new research has found a link between regular concert attendance and longevity.”
“While watching live music, (test subjects’) feelings of well-being climbed by 21%,” the British story goes on to report. “Live music also resulted in a 25% increase in feelings of self-worth and a 75% improvement in mental stimulation. Those who did yoga saw their mood improve by 10%, while dog walkers reported a 7% percent boost in spirits.”
Being outside has health benefits. It can lower blood pressure, boost mental health and decrease cancer risk. Just be sure to apply sunscreen before going outdoors.
Sunburns are the biggest or among the biggest risks of summertime, said Dr. Chan Badger, a family medicine doctor at Novant Health Northern Family Medicine in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Severe sunburns are incredibly frequent this time of year,” he said. “A couple of times every summer, I’ll see someone who’s got a brutal sunburn. It’s just so easy to put on sunscreen and avoid it.” Don’t forget, people of color need sun protection as well.
Socializing staves off feelings of loneliness. Many of us felt isolated last year. We were homebound for months. Interacting with others is an important component of mental health.
Quality family time benefits everybody. When you can find an activity that’s as enjoyable for grown-ups as it is for kids, you’ve got a win/win.
We’re having a party – and everyone’s invited!
All Welcome Back Fests are free and open to all. Advance registration is not required, and no ticket is needed. The first 1,000 people with proof of vaccination who check in are eligible to receive a $10 food voucher for use with the on-site food vendors.
Vaccinations will be available at the event for people who pre-registered, as well as walk-ins. Anyone can register to get a vaccine – at no charge, of course – at WelcomeBackFest2021.com. You can even choose between the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and Pfizer vaccines.
The festival offers a great opportunity to get a vaccine. That’s important now that distribution is shifting from the mass vaccination sites popular when the vaccine was first rolled out to individual doctors’ offices. “This shift will not only ensure we’re set up to efficiently distribute booster shots, if needed, but it will help us reach those who are hesitant … to get the vaccine,” said John Howard, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Novant Health Physician Network.
These free community events will support diverse local businesses, honor health care heroes and celebrate the public health milestones reached with the help of our communities.
We’ve come a long way in a year. Come celebrate with us.