We’ve been seeing lots of social media and general buzziness about a new music festival that has a “who’s who” roster of Louisville musicians in its line-up and it also had a curious name which is “Petefest”. What does this mean? Who’s Pete? Why is Pete having a festival with many of our favorite musicians? Can we come to it or do we have to be named “Pete” to get in? We decided to find out by asking Michelle Jones, PeteFest Music Festival Director & Programming Coordinator, a few important and nosy questions!
WFPK: What is the Pete Foundation and what is your role in it?
Michelle Jones: The Pete Foundation is a newly-established 501(c)3 non-profit in Louisville that aims to create a happier and healthier community by providing services and experiences to young people, and by funding research that will help us better understand mental health. Our end goal is to eliminate suicide, but our means are proactive, in that we strive to raise awareness and understanding of depression and anxiety by educating our youth. It is important that we as a society remove the stigma surrounding mental illness so that people can identify it in themselves and others, and reach out for help when they need it.
My brothers (Jeff, Jack, Matt) and I started The Pete Foundation in December of 2016 after our loving, intelligent, compassionate, and brilliant brother Pete Jones lost his struggle with depression. While the foundation is not necessarily in honor of Pete, for us he symbolizes the countless other young people out there who are battling a mental illness. We want them to know they’re not alone in this struggle.
I am the director of the Foundation, but my job is basically to help run it, build up our infrastructure within the Foundation, and help widen our impact to the community.
WFPK: How did PeteFest come about?
MJ: Petefest Music Festival is our community event, and it’s just one of the Foundation’s current initiatives to maximize our impact to our community. It’s a 3-day music festival, September 8-10, right here in Louisville that will raise funds and spread awareness about our cause. A festival seemed an appropriate mechanism to welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and have some healthy, positive fun. At the same time, I know a lot of people who turn to music as an outlet for emotional conflict, and musicians who use music to express themselves or send a message.
The festival features over 30 local and regional musicians, countless craft vendors, fun and educational activities, and delicious food trucks, and beautiful campgrounds. The lineup is a variety of genres, ranging from bluegrass to hip-hop. The venue is a 90-acre nature preserve located off Seatonville Road in Fern Creek. Tickets and more information at PeteFest.com.
We have a magnificent team of experts in different fields working together to make PeteFest a fun and inspiring experience for all guests. The event is family-friendly and kids under 10 get in free. The Pete Foundation hopes to make PeteFest an annual event, and to grow the festival in the coming years.
WFPK: What does “Rock The Elephant” mean?
MJ: The elephant symbolizes strength, and they are also very compassionate animals, which are qualities we strive to bring out in our community. Our logo (not the same as the 2017 poster) is the rearing elephant, it’s lifting itself up. At the same time, the ‘elephant in the room’ in this case is the issue of mental well-being and personal struggles that no one wants to talk about.
When we “rock the elephant”, we’re really saying “hey we’re here, we are aware of this issue, we’re all in this together, and let’s share with each other”. We came up with the phrase because the rock and the elephant had special meanings for our brother Pete. His name comes from the Greek word ‘Petros’, which means rock or stone. And he was indeed our rock that we could always count on to support us. It’s just a plus that his is a music festival, where ‘rock on’ would also be an appropriate phrase.
Additionally, the elephant is the mascot of the University of Alabama, where Pete graduated in 2015 with a 4.0 and highest honors with a degree in mechanical engineering. He loved his time there. He was the most dedicated sports fan of the University of Alabama (as well at UofL), and had a true appreciation for athletics. So the elephant reminds us of his love of sports.
That’s why we’re ready to rock the elephant this September at PeteFest!
WFPK: Besides the great musical line-up, what else will be going on at the festival that folks can look forward to?
MJ: Other activities at Petefest include sunrise yoga and guided meditation (so bring yoga mats), fun face painting for all ages, drum circles you can participate in; there will be a labyrinth for contemplation, family camping and non-family camping, and campfires; there will be a vendor village with a variety of unique craft booths; there will be a live muralist and other artists creating interactive installations over the 3 days; there will be food trucks selling delicious BBQ, pizza, burritos, tacos, coffee, desserts, and more; there will be raffles and giveaways; and Sunday of the festival is dedicated to young people in Louisville and features young musicians all day.