Seniors encourage vibrant living, launch creative aging festival

By Laura Daniali | Feb 25, 2016
Courtesy of: Trish Feaster (counter clockwise from left to right) Festival co-founders Trish Feaster, Jerry Fireman and Dick Van Hollebeke, Executive Director Julie Colgan and Promotional Coordinator Sandra Schneider are preparing to launch Edmonds’ first Creative Aging Festival from April 15-16.

For some local seniors, retirement is no longer a time to sit back and watch time pass. It’s a time to rediscover the creativity and vibrancy of his or her youth.

For 76-year-old Dick Van Hollebeke, living a vibrant life means being excited about the possibilities each new day offers.

“To me, ‘vibrant’ is indicative of a person that is excited about every day,” Van Hollebeke said. “One who wakes up in the morning glad to be alive and looking forward to everything that that day may offer.

“In a like manner, a vibrant person finds ways to give back to his or her community.”

Van Hollebeke and some of his friends are doing just that. They have set their sights on infusing the senior community of Edmonds with some of their enthusiasm for living a vibrant life at or near retirement age.

Van Hollebeke co-founded the Creative Age Festival of Edmonds, or CAFE, with Trish Feaster and Jerry Fireman. Julie Colgan will serve as executive director, and Sandra Schneider will be the promotional coordinator.

The two-day festival from April 15-16 will feature interactive classes and activities for retirement-aged adults.

“‘CAFE’ is designed to galvanize individuals to stay Creative, Active, Fulfilled and Engaged in their retirement years – vital advice for many who will spend about a third of their life-span in this stage,” Van Hollebeke said.

Feaster said Edmonds has a thriving retiree population, and while she’s not quite at retirement age, she has seen the challenges seniors face when entering that phase of his or her life.

“I’ve seen how difficult it can be for people to make the transition from working to retirement, especially if they haven’t made plans for what they’ll do with their time,” Feaster said. “I’ve also seen how thrilling it can be for many people who choose to embrace their next stage in life with vim and vigor.”

Feaster is an example of doing just that. After retiring from a 15-year career as a high school Spanish and dance teacher in California, Feaster moved to Washington and decided to pursue her passion for French culture.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Washington, and combined past skills as a tour guide to become a tour guide and guide book researcher in Europe for Rick Steves’ Europe.

Feaster has been researching and touring for the past five years and loves it.

She hopes the festival will be a nexus for people to connect with others who can help retirees take the first steps on life’s next journey.

The festival will kick off at 4 p.m. Friday, April 15, with keynote speaker Dr. Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington. She is a well-known sociologist, sexologist, author and TV personality.

Following a VIP reception in the evening for sponsors, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra will perform at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

About 30 workshops will be held on Saturday, April 16, at the Frances Anderson Center and the Edmonds Library. Topics include: health and exercise, the performing and visual arts, literary arts, technology, travel, volunteerism and continuing education.

Gloria Burgess, president of Jazz, Inc.; Dr. Jean Hernandez, president of Edmonds Community College; City of Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling; Rebecca Crichton, Northwest Center for Creative Aging; and poet and author Holly Hughes are among the presenters. An introductory fitness class also will be offered by Harbor Square Athletic Club instructors.

Registration and ticket information will be available at on March 1.

The first 75 registrants who sign up for both days of the festival will be invited to a complimentary wine and cheese reception at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Cascadia Art Museum.

The reception will feature a performance by a Cascade Symphony ensemble and a talk by museum curator David Martin on the new “History of Cornish College of the Arts” exhibit.

Van Hollebeke said retirement gives people the freedom to choose what to do and when to do it. As an active member of the community, a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Van Hollebeke believes in making the most of each day, and hopes the festival will inspire others to do so.

“For me, it has been very empowering to see that what we are doing with the Creative Age Festival of Edmonds is completely in line with the things that are mentioned and recommended to live a long, healthy life,” Van Hollebeke said.

“For a number of years now, it has been my stated goal to live a healthy, productive life to age 100. After my involvement with this festival and the information that I have gathered in the process, I have shifted my goal age to 105.

“That gives me about 28 and a half years to get it right.”


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