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HOPEFest: Image
hopefest image.jpg
HOPEFest: Image


Save the Date: Sunday May 1, 2022
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ

470 James Street, New Haven, CT

Save the Date: Saturday, September 2022
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ

Ashville, NC

Save the Date: Sunday Oct 8, 2022
Dunkin Donuts Stadium

Hartford, CT

April 18, 2022 – New Haven, CT – On Sunday, May 1, Bear's Smokehouse in New Haven presents HOPEfest, A Celebration of Human Connection. The event is being held to celebrate a Guinness World Record, and to honor the permanent installation of a sculpture that is intended to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and bring hope to those who need it the most. 

On October 10, 2020 at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford -- World Mental Health Day -- Bear's Smokehouse BBQ partnered with the Jordan Porco Foundation and broke the world record for the longest chain of carabiners, 13,808. This achievement launched the Linked 4 Life initiative.

“The carabiner, a clip used to tether together climbers, is a visual reminder that we’re linked together, and that it’s OK to ask for help,” said Cheryl Antoncic, co-owner of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ and visioneer of Linked 4 Life. “We’re each other’s safe space, creating a message of hope, one link at a time. Our pledge to be linked for life will break through the stigma that leaves too many people struggling in silence.”

For the 2020 event, Hartford-born artist, Alyssa Haley of Born and Bred studios worked with Iron Workers Local No. 15 to complete a large sculpture that incorporates the carabiners used to break the Guinness World Record. The sculpture will be unveiled on May 1 at 2 PM in its permanent home at Bear's Smokehouse in New Haven. Guests are invited to leave their own messages of HOPE by painting a rock that will go in a garden at the base of the sculpture.

The May 1, 2022 event -- good for all ages -- includes a line up of live music, improv groups, vendors, games & more. 

9 AM to 5 PM: Walk-a-Thon 

10 AM: Yoga on the lawn by Breathing Room Yoga Center from New Haven

Noon to 4 PM: Non-Profit/Vendor Activities 

Noon to 1 PM: Improv groups Sea Tea Theater and Fairfield of Dreams performing "Laugh 4 Life"

1 to 3 PM: Jimmy's Junk Band

2 PM: HOPE sculpture unveiling and Guinness World Record celebration

3 to 4 PM: Musical HOPE Bingo 

There will also be a mocktail competition, drumming circle, community painting, service dogs, and a human scavenger hunt. 

Organizations participating in HOPEfest include Root Recovery, Project Courage Works, Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery, New Haven Pride, RiseUP for Arts, Police Service Dogs of CT with Renee Dinino from The River 105.9, and others.

All activities are free, though donations are graciously welcomed. All funds raised will go to fund the Linked4Life’s national mural tour, Art 4 Hope. The 50 state public art tour is a partnership of Bear’s Foundation, RiseUP for Arts, and the Jordan Porco Foundation. The mission of the tour is to highlight a community's commitment to breaking the stigma of mental health and raising awareness to the connection of mental and physical health. 

The Art 4 Hope tour will launch in 2023 in Atlantic City, and includes the collaboration of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation, police department and various mental health organizations.

“RiseUP has seen public art bring thousands of people together in CT for different purposes," says Matt Conway, Founder and Executive Director of The RiseUp Group, "and now more than ever, our entire country can use public art as a tool to bring us together and shine a bright light on HOPE. It is an honor to be part of the Linked 4 Life team and leading the Art for Hope mural tour across the country!” 

HOPEFest: Welcome
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