By Zach Chouteau
A brisk wind didn’t prevent countless community members from having a fine time at the Gyuto Spring Festival in East Richmond Heights last Saturday. The fun included a children’s playground and bounce house, numerous eclectic vendors and plenty of hospitality at the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery on Bernhard Avenue.
A frequent visitor to the venue, this ‘Rich Life’ segment reporter especially enjoyed seeing the newly installed row of handsomely crafted Buddhist prayer wheels—which were given plenty of attention by festival-goers—and meeting some new folks from around the neighborhood who were hosting booths at the free event.
Among these vendors were John Bry, a budding winemaker who also happens to be a vascular surgeon. His vineyard/label, known as Perfusion, is based by Wildcat Canyon and grows Pinot Noir grapes; Bry is looking into possibly hosting some wine events in the future. Other interesting booth-tenders were Anja Borgstrom—an artist and yoga instructor who occasionally hosts courses at the Gyuto Monastery—and Valencio Grygier, a local photographer.
Elsewhere around the venue intriguing vendors included Highlander Coffee, hand-brewing coffee for event-goers; Swun Tibetan Toys; and a Tibetan Tsampas bar (a popular staple foodstuff in the region). Another highlight was the tasty chicken curry and rice from Tmomo, a local caterer specializing in Himalayan fare. They were unfortunately out of their famous ‘momos’ by the time I dropped by, which are said to be the best dumplings around.
Fair-goers also indulged in the open-house nature of the event, with the Venerable Thupten Donyo—the monastery’s director—on hand to field questions and meet community members. Attendees of the free festival were also able to partake in introductory Buddhism classes, consult with Tibetan doctors and experience yoga, meditation and Qigong courses.
Donyo and the foundation intend to make the festival an annual celebration, but if you’re unfamiliar with the venue don’t wait a year to drop by. The monastery is open to one and all, whether you’re seeking to try a meditation course, browse its quaint gift shop or just stroll the serene ‘Path to Enlightenment’ wrapping around the outskirts of the scenic estate.
Find out more at www.gyutofoundation.org.