Reaping a ‘HARVEST’ of health in Kannapolis
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS ó The North Carolina Research Campus was the focal point of dancing, racing and a lot of learning, as the second annual HARVEST Festival was held downtown.
HARVEST stands for Health Awareness and Research Via Education, Screening and Tasting.
Sponsored by Carolinas Medical Center NorthEast and other local organizations, the health fair is meant to promote long-term awareness of healthy lifestyles.
Last year’s HARVEST Fest took place in early October. This year’s earlier date came with near-perfect weather for the outdoor events, including a 5K foot race and bicycle races, as well as a one mile family fun run.
“It’s been a beautiful day and a wonderful crowd,” Timbs Fulghum of CMC-NorthEast said.
She said the partnership with the Research Campus and local organizations was part of an attempt at making Kannapolis one of North Carolina’s healthiest communities.
“We want to be able to pass on preventative health information,” she said.
Gayle Deal, executive director for business and community relations at CMC-NorthEast, said she hoped everyone who attended would go away with a commitment to healthier living.
“It’s our goal that they would learn at least one or two things that lead to a healthier lifestyle,” Deal said.
The morning started early with the 5K race at 7:30 a.m.
At 10 a.m., the health fair and a mini farmers market opened along Biotechnology Drive.
Representatives from the universities doing research at the biotechnology complex spoke on nutrition and healthy living.
Educational talks and exercise demonstrations on the stage outside of the David Murdock Core Laboratory were interspersed with fun, such as the “Dancing Grannies” cloggers who took to their feet, jiving to songs like “Older Women Make Beautiful Lovers” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”
Nearby tents featured both educational materials and freebies for kids and families.
At a booth dedicated to stroke prevention and awareness, Joan Mesler of CMC-NorthEast packed bags with literature on warning signs and tips for diet and exercise.
“We’ve given out about a hundred of these so far, and it’s only an hour into it,” Mesler said.
The “farmer’s market” set up near the university research buildings was short on fresh produce; it was more of a marketplace for food, with booths from downtown Kannapolis restaurant Forty Six and other local bakers and artisans.
The day’s main draw was the variety of health information on hand, and there was encouragement to visit as many of those booths as possible.
Those who got a card stamped from various stations could be entered for a $100 Concord Mills Mall gift card and other prizes.
But the knowledge is what impressed ó and in a few cases surprised ó those who turned out for the fair.
And, at the nutritional education booth staffed by CMC’s Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, a row of test tubes showed the amount of saturated an unsaturated fat in popular foods.
Yellowish oil and blobs of grease represented the fat contents of foods that many kids eat.
“There’s that much fat in a grilled cheese sandwich,” Jennifer Anderson said, pointing out the display while she maneuvered her son, 17-month-old Declaen, in his stroller.
“When you have kids his age, and you’re having to cook fast, you just don’t know,” she said.
Anderson held in her hand a copy of a fact sheet with helpful tips for parents on the go, and a recipe for a healthy trail mix snack that kids can help make.
Tasha Carter said she’d come out to staff a booth for Family Foot Care, her employer, which provides diabetic care and foot care services.
But in her free time, she went around to booths and said she was amazed at what she learned about how to live a more healthy life..
“There’s a lot of things you never really knew, that are all out here,” Carter said.