In ancient Greek mythology, the Chimera was a powerful, fire-breathing female beast composed of parts from more than one animal. Joseph Floyd, the executive director for Active Streets Alliance, referenced the hybrid creature when describing the event it was named after.
“Chimera Fest, in many respects, is the three-headed creature of Greek lore,” Floyd said. “The weekend is a reimagining of how truly local events and organizations can come together and strengthen the efforts of all partnering events.”
Chimera Fest is a three-day event celebrating the convergence of creativity, innovation and art within the Gainesville community, and it’s hosted by Future Music Makers, Heartwood Soundstage and Active Streets Alliance.
The festival, located in the SoMa District, will include the Second Annual Menagerie in Motion Kinetic Derby, the first North Florida opening of the Heartwood Music Festival and the Fourth Annual Active Streets Gainesville event.
Floyd said the Active Streets Gainesville event highlights his organization’s primary objective, which is building a community around and in our streets.
The event, which Floyd said reached 10,000 attendees last year, will include three stages of live music curated by Future Music Makers, a food truck rally and more than 50 local businesses that all share the same purpose.
“The goal of the event is to highlight a shared public space, the road, in an alternative use while building the community,” Floyd said. “The businesses have agreed to join in a unique effort for the day to meet on the street as equals.”
Floyd said Active Streets Alliance is continuing to grow, and he confirmed that Chimera Fest will be expanding into 2021.
“I became involved in the organization to create opportunities for others to experience the Gainesville that I have,” Floyd said. “It’s an opportunity to give back and to build and grow on the things that make Gainesville and Alachua County such a special place.”
Fae Nageon de Lestang, the president and co-founder of Future Music Makers, said she worked with Floyd and Active Streets Alliance many times in the past, and it was a conversation the two of them had that inspired Chimera Fest.
“We were talking about the difference between making a place into the kind of state that you want to live in versus moving somewhere else,” Nageon de Lestang said. “We thought the best way to make it all happen would be to throw all these events and partner with all these people who are helping to build our community into a more vibrant, cultural center and to have us all participate in a whole weekend versus competing with each other to throw different events.”
She, along with five other musicians, started the nonprofit Future Music Makers from the ground up, with the goal of providing children with the resources and skills to grow and learn through music.
“Whether or not you end up being a musician, it doesn’t matter,” Nageon de Lestang said. “It’s about having the chance to try it.”
She said the organization provides children with a scholarship to study and receive private instruction in the instrument of their choice for six months. Afterward, those children will have a chance to film a music video playing their instrument. Future Music Makers is committed to giving out one scholarship every month in 2017.
“We all had the chance to have a mentor and to get to have private lessons, and that has been the most powerful and educational experiences of my life,” Nageon de Lestang said. “Having somebody that’s on your side, that’s there to push you and help you grow, to show you a side of something that you wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise is why I think it’s so important for us to be able to provide a mentorship for children with people who are actually musicians.”
Heartwood Soundstage will open its doors for the first time Saturday as 24 local bands will play at the first annual Heartwood Music Festival. For every ticket spent at the concert, Heartwood will donate a dollar to the Future Music Makers’ scholarship.
Nageon de Lestang said the preparation of the event has been beneficial for her, as it was a privilege to interact and work with people who are working so hard to build Gainesville as a cultural center.
“We have so many partners that are helping to put this event on, amazing organizations and people, that have worked really hard to make this happen, and all of them are trying to work towards making Gainesville a better place to live,” she said. “Our goal is for people to experience something that they didn’t realize was available in their town and to hopefully feel passionate enough about it to get involved themselves.”
The festival’s events will be spread throughout the weekend, with the Second Annual Menagerie in Motion Kinetic Derby on Friday and Saturday, the Heartwood Music festival on Saturday and Active Streets Alliance on Sunday.