A Festival All About Love

Orlandians gathered in the Mills District on Sunday to celebrate happiness, acceptance, and friendship. A festival described as being “all about love”, the Orlando Love Fest offered participants an array of opportunities to show kindness to both others and themselves.

Despite the wet weather in the early part of the day, this event was one of rain-or-shine determination. The streets were filled down both sides with small and local businesses of Orlando sharing their arts and goods with the community. Among these were yoga instructors, wellness centers, local artists, music vendors, and of course, food trucks.

Attendees came with their appetites to get a taste of the unique food that can only be found hitched to the back of a vehicle. One participant from the Orlando area says she had similar intentions in attending.

Hannah Kendrick, a fellow UCF student, says she attended because she “wanted to support local businesses and connect with the community.” During her time, she said she had the opportunity to speak with members of her community and learn more about why this kind of welcoming event was described by some as, “just in the nick of time for our nation and each other.”

“It makes me happy to see events like this in our area. I’d love to see this event grow in the future and attract even more attendees next year.”

Hannah says she will likely be one of those attendees showing support in 2018 as well.

In addition to celebrating the love for one another, this happy crowd made sure to share their love of animals as well. Dogs were welcome, and encouraged, to accompany their owners to the festival to share the love. Energetic and cheerful pups could be spotted throughout the duration of the event with wagging tails and friendly faces.

Local artisans shared their products ranging from tie-dye shirts, handmade bracelets, vegan-friendly nutrients, and craft beer. Several local bands supplied the entertainment for this event with music from their own selections and crowd favorites.

One vendor had a different motivation for attending the festival, though. Dan, a vital member of the communications team at The Center, was looking to share information that could save a life. He says his most important goal in being in attendance was to make sure that everyone he spoke to knew what The Center was and how it could help them.

“I just want everyone to know that there are options to find HIV, STD, and STI testing for free in the area. We’re open 7 days a week and results are confidential, so patients can be sure that they’re safe in coming to us.”

Located just down the road from the event, this non-profit community service organization handed out flyers, condoms, and smiles to individuals. Overall, the continuous message that participants were left with at the end of the event was one of acceptance, joy, and compassion.

If you want to learn more about free STD, STI, and HIV testing, check out The Center’s page here.

Mariah Creech, Daniel Hyun, and Jordan Sirokie contributed to this story.