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Red Tent Extravaganza to serve women of the community

By Moazama Rafiqzad - Daily Correspondent

Doran Richards, owner of Blessing God's Way, is working hard to plan the 2nd Annual Red Tent Extravaganza to serve women in the community.

"I have read and seen how women from all over the states and abroad have started to have more and more of these events in their community. I like the idea of women getting together and sharing and serving one another. So, this fit with my ministry," says Richards.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Strasburg on Saturday, is designed for women of all generations, cultures and backgrounds to help provide a relaxing day where women serve each other nourishing their minds, bodies and souls. Men are definitely welcome to attend, because it is a family event, but its focus is on women.

"Husbands come and share the day with their women, spouses, partners, wives, daughters," Richards says. "We saw more women though [last year]. Our live music had some men..."

The event is an all volunteer-organized and volunteer-run festival that offers a fun-filled day of face painting, hair braiding, massage and henna. There will be about 60 vendors. Those who like to be active as they relax can enjoy Zumba, Pilates and yoga at the event. There also will be a plant sale and food provided by Strasburg Diner.

"I wanted to create a place where even Christian women were not afraid to go and take part in the festivities," Richards says. The word "ritual" can sound pagan to some Christians, she explains, "but the word ritual, is just a word to me -- a word that we all can embrace and use."

"I wanted the Red Tent to be a ritual of sorts, something that we continue, that we pass down, that the community embraces and expects each year."

The event has a low cost of $5 per family, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to three local pregnancy centers: Front Royal Pregnancy Center, Shenandoah Pregnancy Center and Abba Care Pregnancy Center.

"All three are very different and offer different programs for women and families of our community," Richards says. "All need donations. None of them asked me to do this, but that is where we felt the money would be best used from this event. It may change from year to year."

Some booths will have donation boxes set out for volunteers for their time. Richards' daughter Emma, 17, an early high school graduate, will volunteer her time and braid hair. She will have a donation box set out, hoping to raise money for a mission trip to Romania through Global Expeditions to teach orphans and minister to Gypsy children.

Booths that offer henna, face painting and massage also will have donation boxes.

According to Richards, "Massage is hard menial work, and the money would go to whoever is doing the massage at that time. Plus booths like face painting and henna, the money donated would help with the cost of the supplies."

Richards says continuing Red Tent Extravaganza for many years to come will require a regular commitment from volunteers. Organizers want to have more volunteers for next year's event, as the event became bigger than expected this year and they didn't have enough people.

"Men helped us set up and take down -- very important. They supported the event, in the background more last year than I think will happen this year," informs Richards.
She says she hopes to spread a feeling of belonging, a feeling of hope, a feeling of community, a feeling of being fed and nourished through families and their women in the community.

"I don't want to put women above anyone else in a feministic way, but in a way that is supportive. I believe women in the U.S. are not supported during their phases and seasons of womanhood. This is what I want to change." She hesitates on using the word empowering. "I want to offer support, education and celebration for women. If that means empowering, then so be it," she said.

"We all can be a part of this good thing: volunteering, participating, enjoying the live music... most importantly, the support and love from one another, no matter what faith or background you bring to it."

Red Tent Extravaganza will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at 239 High St., Strasburg. For more information or to volunteer, call Doran Richards at 540-295-2186 or email bgway@shentel.net.



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