Pete Jones’ yearbook photo | Courtesy of The Pete Foundation

PeteFest is back for its second year of music and advocacy against suicide and for research and treatment of depression and mental illness. The three-day event kicks off Friday, Sept. 7, and marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, which is Sept. 9-15.

The music festival is growing, with two dozen local and national acts this year, including Son Volt, Ben Sollee and Jeff the Brotherhood.

Also quite interesting, some local artists — Bonnie Prince Billy, Cheyenne Mize and Scott Carney with Curio Key Club — will be performing The Talking Heads’ iconic 1984 album, “Stop Making Sense,” in its entirety.

PeteFest was born out of tragedy. Pete Jones, 23, ended his own life on Dec. 9, 2016. Friends and family knew he had struggled with depression and was getting treatment for it, but they were unaware that his depression had gone that far, said Young Koepke, spokesperson for The Pete Foundation.

Jones had been a musician and avid music fan his whole life, and his parents and four siblings decided that something must be done to prevent other families from suffering the same tragic end.

Soon after his death, the family created The Pete Foundation, which puts on PeteFest in his memory. The organization works with the University of Louisville Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences on research, as well as with other organizations on suicide prevention and screening.

“Pete Foundation members are very involved in mental health advocacy in Louisville,” said Koepke.

Pete’s sister, Michelle Jones, is involved with Louisville’s Bold Moves Against Suicide initiative, which works to prevent suicide in the city. Through that initiative, The Pete Foundation will be conducting more than 80 suicide prevention screenings, beginning at PeteFest.

“Through The Pete Foundation and PeteFest, we collaborate with different organizations,” Koepke said. “We believe that we can’t do this alone — we have to work together. We partner with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Louisville, with UofL, the Louisville Health Advisory Board, and we’re always looking for other ways to collaborate.” 

Blind Corn Liquor Picker played at PeteFest 2017. | Courtesy of PeteFest

Music celebrates Pete Jones and his life and love of music, but music also has therapeutic benefits.

“Music is such a great therapy, and it’s a way for the artist and the listeners to relate to certain emotional states,” Koepke said.

PeteFest will have speakers and educational events along with the music, as well as yoga and guided meditation. Dr. Chris Peters, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry at UofL, will speak Saturday morning about the reality and future of youth mental health advocacy against suicide. 

On Sunday, there will be a free QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Training, and the registration has already filled the number of seats available, Koepke said, although they are working on getting more seating.

PeteFest will feature food trucks, craft vendors, live muralists, performances by CirqueLouis, wellness booths, cash bars, Mile Wide Brewing Co.’s craft beer, Old 502 wines, and activities for all ages, such as morning yoga, guided meditation, pop-up games, free face painting and more.

Wilfred Sieg III from the Art Cartel created a mural at last year’s PeteFest. | Courtesy of PeteFest

“Discover Sunday” features a lineup entirely of younger local musicians, providing the opportunity for local youth to play live.

PeteFest takes place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 7-9, at Jones Fields Nature Preserve, 8401 Dawson Hill Road, near Turkey Run Park. Tickets range from $10-$169, with options for camping and VIP.

Lisa Hornung a native of Louisville and has worked in local media for more than 15 years as a writer and editor. Before that she worked as a writer, editor and photographer for community newspapers in Kansas, Ohio and Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, and after a 20-year career in journalism, she obtained a master’s degree in history from Eastern Kentucky University in 2016.


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