Sundown Festival: Bringing Arts, Nature and Community Together

Written by: Renmart Buhay, Get Outside BC Participant

Growing up I always had an affinity for the outdoors, so when the opportunity came to attend a natural leadership summit called Get Outside BC I was excited. I came back to my community with confidence and motivation to share the passion I have for the outdoors with other youth. The take home message I got from the summit, was that I could make changes in my actions and routines that promotes care for myself and the environment just by getting outside.

For this reason my friends and I decided to create an outdoors youth festival in our city.

By fusing our passions of the arts and nature, we aimed to bring community engagement and outdoor fun to youth in our city. On September 13, at Moody Park after months of planning our Sundown Festival came to fruition with over a hundred youth and over two hundred people showing up.

The day long festival brought out many youth performers, volunteers and community sponsors within my city. The performers for the festival ranged from a youth mariachi band, dancers, singers, DJs and a martial arts group. On the schedule of the day performers would perform on the main stage from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. I came back from the summit with new ideas to integrate more outdoors feel.

During the summit, I had a good conversation about the connection between mental health and nature on youth. I was motivated to have the festival be in the outdoors because of the benefits of being in the outdoors on mental health. We had a booth set up from my school’s Environment Club which provided seed balls for people to make. The youth arts committee in my city also had artwork decorated around the park and a henna station. At Moody Park, the grass field was a perfect place for playing many outdoor games and sports like football and badminton.

There were a variety of fun things to do on the sunny and bright day in the park. Plus free barbecue was provided courtesy of our sponsor Save on Foods, and free ice cream from Dairy Queen! There were many community booths as well from ICBC, WorkSafeBC, and volunteers from St. John ambulance and local police department.

Looking back now, I see my event as a success not just for the attendance numbers but the sense of community created as strangers were making conversations or playing sports with one another. I made lots of new friends that day by playing ladder toss and sword fighting.

A day outside in the park was a great way to foster a close knit community among youth, who are usually distracted by electronic devices. More importantly, the outdoor setting provided a comfortable and fun environment for young people, which will hopefully encourage them to get outside more often. I am thankful for Get Outside BC for the mentorship and skills they have provided me during this event process. I am now encouraged and hopeful to start a new routine of taking time to appreciate the nature around me!