WORCESTER – Get exhilarated, Worcester. A festival chock full of music art, food and yoga is coming downtown this fall.
What aims to be entertaining and impactful, all of the proceeds from ticket sales from the Sept. 22 music festival held on Worcester Common — featuring six local music acts — will be used to benefit the educational experience for students at Woodland Academy, a Worcester public school.
The festival — named Exhilarate Worcester to spark local enthusiasm — has been organized by Jana Berthiaume and Katie King — teachers at Woodland Academy in Worcester — and Jill Karns, a psychologist at Sutton HIgh School.
“The name ‘Exhilarate Worcester’ came from bringing excitement into the city, while simultaneously making the students and faculty at Woodland happy and excited about the potential for loads of new resources,” Berthiaume, of Worcester, said.
The logo for the new festival [pictured below] features a bear cub dressed like a student — since Woodland Academy’s mascot is the Cubs — and was designed by Berthiaume’s sister, Jessie Berthiaume.
According to Berthiaume, 96% of the student population at Woodland Academy are minorities, many are facing poverty, and many come from traumatic backgrounds. Out of the school’s 635 students, 500 speak English as their second language.
All Worcester Public Schools receive free school lunch due to the city’s high poverty.
“We hope this event will not only help further these students’ education, but also bring people in Worcester together to help supplement public education,” Berthiaume said.
Berthiaume and the other organizers of the event wanted to choose local artists from the Worcester music scene with an already ingrained following in the city to help boost the number of concert-goers.
“It’s a real mix-up of local talent,” Karns said. “The organizers all sat down and threw out their favorite local bands.”
Karns’s favorite – Blue Light Bandits – are one of the headliners of the event. Blue Light Bandits are a groove rock band led by Worcester’s Ricky Duran. Their performance presence was praised at the 2018 Pulse Magazine Worcester Music Awards.
In addition to the Blue Light Bandits, the festival lineup will also feature musicians Cara Brindisi Lainey Dionne, and Dezi Garcia, as well as three local bands — Nate Chung Project, The Silent Trees, and Something Sneaky.
Dionne, a Rhode Island native, who was just nominated for 3 categories in the 2018 Worcester Music Awards (Best Americana Act, Best solo/acoustic act, and Best College Act), said, “I’m excited to play in Worcester again. I love the Worcester music scene and this event is for a great cause.”
Nate Chung, the leader of the Nate Chung Project, is also excited for the chance to play at the Common.
“Their vision for the event is incredible. Outdoors at the Worcester Common, with a stage, vendors, and a beer garden, It just sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together,” Chung said.
Not only that, but Chung is also looking forward to the great cause as well. Chung is a volunteer in a local Big Brother program, and his band performed at the Nativity School’s Spring Auction Fundraiser Event.
“Working with kids and helping schools in Worcester is an incredible feeling. So to have an opportunity to help raise money for Woodland Academy is great.” said Chung.
Attendees will not only have the chance to listen to local music, but also mingle with local artists, try food from vendors, and unwind with some Vinyasa Flow Yoga by Taproom Yoga located in Shrewsbury.
Although amazing things will be going on during the day of the event, the most important work needs to be done leading up to it, according to the event’s organizers.
Since Exhilarate Worcester will be benefiting local public education, they want to raise as much money as they can through local sponsorships.
The funds raised from the event will be going towards: several student and teacher development memberships, new keyboards, and product repairs for Apple products.
“I’m really excited to bring money to the students,” said Karns.
“The proceeds from the event will provide English Language Learner [ELL] students the tools to expand their vocabulary,” said Berthiaume.
The festival is being funded through sponsorship donations. There are different tiers of sponsorships ranging from Bronze to Platinum and are based on the amount of money donated to the event.
So far, a lot has gone into spreading awareness about the event.
“[Berthiaume] and I went to different banks and businesses in downtown Worcester and passed out forms about what we’re doing and how they can sponsor,” Karns said. “It did get quite a few people interested.”
Besides putting feet on the ground and through word of mouth, the team of organizers have been using social media as a platform to get the event noticed.
“The response has been good all around so far — especially by both friends and family,” said Berthiaume.
Exhilarate Worcester will take place at the Worcester Common from 2pm to 10pm rain or shine.
“We’re hoping to get 3,000 people to show up; the Common can fit 5,000,” said Karns.
“It’s going to be fun thing for people to do in the city,” said Berthiaume. “It’s going to be a great way of giving back to the community.”