Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Last weekend, a whole group of happy laughers from around the country gathered together in Ferryville, Wisconsin to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Laugh-Fest of the Midwest on World Laughter Day weekend (thus making it the world’s longest World Laughter Day celebration). Eighteen presenters shared with over 50 participants in the biggest and best fest so far. We thank everyone who came, who presented, who laughed and who sent us good wishes from afar. We truly are one big laughter family and everyone is welcome. The world needs more laughter.

Here are a few pictures from the amazing event.

The fun advertisement designed by Lynda Tourloukis

The official group picture (even though it doesn't quite include everybody)

What we hope Google will use someday for World Laughter Day!

The adventure began on April 29 when Lynda Tourloukis flew into LaCrosse, Wisconsin to begin her teacher training class. Rick Gramlich and I met her at the airport with her banner!

Then Rick, Lynda & I went for dessert at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Lynda laughed for joy at the Votive Candle Chapel

Then she lit a candle and prayed for her upcoming training.

We went into the shrine and did silent laughter!

Here we are outside the shrine.

We arrived at camp and found Clint Darr was already there laughing!

Lynda's class of Clint Darr and Amy Kuth. Congratulations to the two of them: they are the world's newest Laughter Yoga Teachers!

Then on Wednesday, May 3, Robert Rivest flew in from Massachusetts.

He, too, took a mini pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Robert after his spiritual renewal at the shrine.

Robert Rivest, along with Lynda Tourloukis and her teacher students, led the Lansing Laughter Club at my church.

Robert finished up the laughter session with some mindful breathing in the sanctuary.

Then Robert taught a two day Laughter Yoga Leader training. Here they all are laughing by the horse pasture.

The tranquil camp of Sugar Creek Bible Camp where it all took place.

The Laugh-Fest kicked off with an outdoor Laughter Yoga session.

Then Celia gave a breathtaking concert.

My husband, William, with my cousin and her baby.

My sister, Kathy Phelan, with my cousin's baby

Then Robert Rivest gave and amazing mime performance and showed us some of the secrets.

It was William's birthday so we had a surprise cake!

William and his nephew
It was Cinco de Mayo so we had a pinata for the kids (and kids at heart).

Joy Baldoz (who flew in from California!) and Clara Pask with their happy nametags

Rick Gramlich, Lynda Tourloukis, Celia Farran and William Gentry

Amy Kuth leading a mindful meditation on Saturday morning.

Lauren Hunt leading a community singing session on Saturday morning.

Robert Rivest, our keynote speaker, leading a mindful laughter session.

The Laughing DJs from Utah with Robert Rivest, Ellen Mercer from Oklahoma and Ray Wojciechowski (and me photo-bombing in the back!).   

Clint Darr giving his TED Talk lecture.

Ellen Mercer and Clint Darr

Ellen Mercer giving her Laughter and Chocolate presentation.

Rick Gramlich and Robert Rivest.

Then we did some dancing and a shark swam through (you never know what will happen next at Laugh-Fest).

Brenda and Kenny Ahern came to do a clowning workshop.

Kenny explaining how to water spout.

Kathy Phelan demonstrating her great water spouting.

We got all set to get pies in the face!

Michael Phelan after getting a pie in the face!

Melony Orr after getting pied.

Michael got carried away with the pie fighting (should I admit he's my nephew?)

Liz Beal shared her heart-felt story of laughing through cancer.

Julie Pugmire and Delan Jensen (known as the Laughing DJs) gave their presentation about Laughter Yoga in the college context. Go banana!

One of the afternoon options was to do the Kundalini Dancing Mediation. Here the group danced near the creek and felt true bliss.

Jane Voigts, Laughing Laura, Kathy Phelan and Carrie Hein-Paredes after the meditation (can't you see our joy!)

The beautiful Sugar Creek on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Jeff Abbas led a nature hike where participants learned about how to forage for wild foods.

Jeff and the group found a whole bunch of morel mushrooms (a Midwest delicacy) and cooked them up for all to share at dinner.

The boys had a great time.

The cabins Laugh-Festers stayed in.

Liz Beal and Aaron Covey (two of our presenters).

All ready for the costume party!

Kathy Phelan and Carrie Hein-Paredes

Amanda Rhine came from Decorah to lead us in a hip hop dance session at the party. We rocked it!

Sherry Avila strutting her stuff at the costume fashion parade.

Calvin Weis having a great time.

More hip hop dancing!

Michael Phelan and Louden Weis in the talent show.

The Chicago folks: Ellen Klein, Lynda Tourloukis, Sherry and Frank Avila

Clint Darr in the talent show.

Me with my cousin's daughter, Astin Hong

Joy Baldoz showing how to BEE happy.

My sister, Kathy Phelan, me and my cousin, Marcy Hong

The Saturday night campfire.

The field trip to Our Savior's Lutheran Church of Lansing, Iowa on Sunday morning.

Teddy Widdel frightening a parishioner in the interactive children's sermon!

Rev. Jane Voigts preaching.

Me leading worship at my church.

Celia sharing her music at worship.

We did a World Laughter Day laughter flash mob downtown Lansing!

Kathy Phelan, her son, Michael, Carrie Hein-Paredes and me

Teddy Widdel and her lovely sign.

Teddy Widdel's presentation

Lynda Tourloukis wrapping up the event

The final ritual: a run through the tunnel of affirmation!