The past two years haven’t been easy for Jennifer “Gem” Rhodes.
She lost her brother, her only sibling, a year ago. Her father died last month. In 2017, after suffering severe leg pain, the Saratoga native was diagnosed with a rare bone disease that led to total replacements of both hips.
Through the dark days, Rhodes dreamed of putting together an event devoted to healing, wellness and holistic health.
“I wanted to throw my energy into something. I wanted to bring an event like no other,” says Rhodes.
On Saturday, the Mind Body Soul Expo, organized by Rhodes, will happen in the Saratoga Springs City Center. More than 90 vendors, 85 percent from the Capital Region, will be there. Handmade jewelry, essential oils, soap, art, gemstones, crystals and much more will be for sale, and visitors will be able to connect with fitness coaches, psychic mediums, reiki practitioners, acupuncturists and astrologers.
A special room will be devoted to meditation and yoga. Belly dancers will perform, Studio Chrome from Glens Falls will demonstrate pole fitness and Fresh ADK, a vegan restaurant in Glens Falls, will hand out samples.
Eight presenters, including Trent Millet, the “Saratoga Water Witch” who gives tours of the city’s mineral springs, will give talks. “He has so much knowledge jam-packed into him. He’s a walking treasure,” says Rhodes.
There is no admission charge. Visitors can walk in and out without a hand stamp or tickets.
“I like the idea of it being free,” says Rhodes. Because there’s no admission, she says, visitors may be more likely to pay for a psychic reading, a chair massage, a package of herbal tea or some chocolate infused with CBD, a compound found in marijuana. “It’s just me and the vendors,” says Rhodes. “There are no bigtime sponsors.”
The family-friendly event is expected to draw a crowd because it’s scheduled on the first Saturday of spring and the second day of Saratoga County Restaurant Week.
The Saratoga Record Riot will also be set up in another space in the City Center.
“We going to have guided gemstone meditations by Erin Sikopoulos of Wilton. We’re going to have aura chakra readings by Akash Patel,” says Rhodes.
The Salt Den in Latham will welcome visitors into the meditation room for crystal bowl meditation and hatha yoga.
Coming from Buskirk, in Rensselaer County, is 22 Shades of Gray: handcrafted, astrologically-inspired clothing designed by Patty Gray.
Other locals include Reen’s Soy Candles and Essentials from Niskayuna; reiki master and “witch doctor” Tiffany Butler from Esperance; artist Brian Petroski and ECS Psychological Services of Saratoga Springs. The Capital Region Vegan Network will also have a booth.
Rhodes is an artist too. She created the goddess-like yarn, fabric and ribbon headpiece in the poster image for the event, which was photographed by Thom Williams. (The model wearing the headpiece is Jordann Bardino of Amsterdam)
Saturday’s Expo is actually Rhode’s second such event. Her first one-day Expo, with 43 vendors, was held last August at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.
“I didn’t know how people would perceive it. Would it be welcomed?” she says.
After positive feedback from vendors and participants, she set her sights on this Saturday’s event, which nearly doubles the number of vendors.
“Saratoga hasn’t had an event like this in six years,” says Rhodes, a 1991 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. “We have the healing springs, we have so many health and wellness practitioners in our area.”
Rhodes’ own journey of healing began in April 2017 when she found out that she had Avascular Necrosis (AVN), which she describes as “blood loss to the bone,” a condition that affects one in 100,000 people.
Going through physical pain, surgery and then the shock and grief of losing two members of her family was a learning experience, she says.
“I had a spiritual awakening of a sort. That’s how the Expo was born,” Rhodes told the Gazette during a meeting at a Saratoga café. “This is my healing,” she said, tapping a finger on the Expo poster.
“It’s my time to help people and give back, to say thank you. Going through trauma, losses, the negative things in life, you learn to appreciate things and to want to say thank you to the people who have been there for you.”
For Rhodes, this Saturday’s Expo is only the beginning. She’s already planning a smaller Mind Body Soul event on Aug. 11 at the Holiday Inn, and in 2020, another big Expo will return to the City Center.
Mind Body Soul Expo
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (March 23)
WHERE: Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: Facebook, Instagram
-- Paisley Soul Belly Dancers: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
Healing and Meditation Room:
-- Crystal Bowl Meditations by Tracey, 10:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
-- Hatha Yoga by Nikki, 11:30 a.m., 2:15p.m.
-- Guided Gemstone Meditations by Erin, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m.
Talks & Presentations:
-- 10:20 a.m. - Patty Matthews, “Getting in the Driver’s Seat of Your Emotions”
-- 11:20 a.m. - Karen Carey, “Live a Five Star Life: Tap into Your Power, Find Your Courage, Achieve Your Dreams”
-- 12:30 p.m. - Katherine Moss, Solidago Tarot
-- 1:20 p.m. - Corbie Mitleid, “Clean Out Your Life Closet”
-- 2:10 p.m. - Alex Thompson, “Unlocking the Entrepreneurial Potential Using Human Design”
-- 3:15 p.m. - Wren Margaret Grace, “The Tree of Success”
-- 4:15 p.m. - Jarin Kenyon, “Fast Track Your Dreams”
-- 5:15 p.m. - Trent Millet, “Mineral Waters of Saratoga”