General Information

About Zenfest

ZenFest is an annual festival held at Camp Gaea Retreat Center in McLouth, Kansas. ZenFest is workshop based, meaning the focus of the festival is on learning, growing, and building community. We focus on finding “zen” through the disciplines of dance/object manipulation, body/energy work, and music/hand drumming.

This is our 6th year, and we have built up a wonderful community of diverse attendees. This is not a “spectator” event, a “burner” event, or a rave party.

Event Date and Time

ZenFest 2014 begins August 7th at noon and ends August 10th at noon. Camp Gaea Retreat Center is reserved exclusively for ZenFest during these times. (meaning, anyone who wants to be on property during those times must purchase a ZenFest ticket).

About the Venue

Camp Gaea is a great location! Encompassing 168 acres of woods, fields, and prairie, Camp Gaea is located within a 1-hr drive of Kansas City.

There is a 12-acre lake, with a sandy beach for swimming, and a floating dock. 

Structures include a large pavilion with a stage and electricity, cabins with bunks and electricity (bunks are available to rent for ZenFest, for an added fee), and a showerhouse with flush toilets, sinks, mirrors, and heated showers. The Dining Hall is available for eating in an enclosed area, and the Main Hall is kept open to attendees and air conditioned.

There is a water spigot on the Ridge where drinkable water is available, though it may be preferable for taste to filter the water first.


ZenQuest is an intense, 4-5 hour journey: through the back trails of Gaea, through the 3 disciplines of ZenFest (music, movement, and meditation), and through your own inner realms.

Participants will meet the guide (Viollca) in the pavilion. After a brief introduction, we will embark as a group on a "pilgrimage" through the back trails and fields of Gaea, stopping for workshops along the way. The pilgrimage will travel to First Field, then Hermitage, down Blood Trail, and then to the Beach.

Bring a full water bottle (there will be refilling stations along the way), a flashlight, and something small to sit on, if desired. Please use the restroom BEFORE embarking on the ZenQuest, as there will only be one bathroom stop along the way.

We will be walking the back fields of Gaea, and hiking Blood Trail (aptly named) in the dark. Prepare appropriately - wear sturdy shoes, cover yourself in bug spray, etc. If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to walk for long distances or over rough terrain, you'll probably want to pass on this trek.

Fire Spinning

ONLY insured fire spinners may spin outside of the “Fire Spinning Workshop.” If you are covered by a Performer's Personal Liability Insurance policy, bring your proof of insurance to the ZenFest booth to receive your “insured” armband.

If you are not insured, don’t despair! You still have the chance to spin fire during the Saturday night “Fire Spinning Workshop.” This is a great time for a “virgin burn,” i.e. for beginners to try their hands at fire spinning in a safe, supportive environment. The Fire-Spinning Workshop is several hours long to give non-insured flow artists plenty of time to get their fire fix! The only pre-requisite for the Fire Spinning Workshop is to attend the “Fire Safety Workshop.” Anyone under any sort of influence will not be allowed to participate in the Fire Spinning Workshop.

The Fire Spinning Workshop is an exception to the Gaea Retreat Center’s normal rules. With their cooperation we have worked out this solution to help give un-insured spinners as much time as possible to spin while helping to promote fire safety.

Help Us "Leave No Trace"

While there are trash and recycling bins for public use at Gaea, we would like to start a tradition of “pack it in, pack it out.” Bring an extra trash bag with you, and on your way out drop any trash off in the dumpster next to Phoenix Hall.

Show your love and respect for the land by cleaning up your own trash by taking it down the hill to the public dumpster!


Parking is only allowed in the parking fields, not in campsites. You can unload at your campsite but once completed your car must be relocated to the parking fields. Once your car is parked, it needs to stay parked for the weekend! Driving up and down the hill will not be permitted, unless you have a handicapped tag. Practice the art of Zen Exercise and walk!

Also, carpooling is awesome. The ZenFest Facebook Page and ZenFest 2014 Event Page are great places to find out if anyone else is driving from your location.

Vehicles with over 2 axels are charged an impact fee on the land. This fee goes directly towards the upkeep of the Gaea Retreat Center, not towards ZenFest.


We do not currently have a food vendor for ZenFest 2014.

If you plan on cooking, you can cook over an open fire in a designated fire pit. Portable grills are super handy. We will have water coolers set up at key points on the Ridge – please bring a refillable water bottle, as we will not be providing plastic cups, due to the waste they create. Aluminum ZenFest water bottles are on sale at the ZenFest info tent during the festival. 

There is a community potluck at the Dining Hall on Thursday evening, from 6pm-8pm. Please bring a dish to share, and be ready to clean up after yourself. 


The rule at Gaea is that no photography is allowed unless you have specific consent from every individual in the picture. If you want to take photos (if you do, please share them with us!), you must ask before shooting.

What To Bring

Bring any necessities for a weekend in the woods – tent, sleeping bag, bug spray, sun block, refillable water bottle (water bottles will be for sale at the ZenFest booth), allergy meds, rain gear, flash light, food and snacks, and toiletries. Camp Gaea does have a shower house with communal showers and one private shower, as well as sinks, mirrors, and toilets. We have had weather ranging from a raging “monsoon” to the hottest day of the year – please come prepared!

Look to workshop descriptions for specifics of what is needed, and to see whether the presenter will have items for you to utilize.

Bring a drum or other musical instrument if you wish to join in the nightly drum circles. 

Bring fuel for fire spinning if you wish to burn. During the Fire Spinning Workshop, all fire tools will be checked for safety prior to participants spinning. Unsafe tools will not be allowed. If your tool is deemed unsafe (improperly joined pieces, Kevlar falling off, etc.) you are welcome to ask around for tools to borrow.


There is not an additional fee for vendors this year. Vendors must purchase a ticket to ZenFest for themselves and each individual in their party. Vendors are restricted to setting up on the ridge. It is strongly encouraged to setup only a tent and not utilize a vehicle as part of your sleeping/merchanting arrangement. If we receive rainy weather vehicles may be restricted from driving on or OFF the ridge, which may leave you stuck until the ground is safe to drive on. Please respect the land and respect the rules.