TEXARKANA — Despite a life of hardship, Universal Vibe music festival founder Colton Foltz looks outside of himself, living a life of service.
Focused on holistic outlets and healing, Universal Vibe is the culmination of Foltz’s process of turning obstacles into multiplied blessings for the enjoyment of the community.
“We created the Vibe because we saw the importance of bringing the community together, especially during the times we faced in 2020. We also wanted to build the holistic/spiritual/artistic community here in Texarkana, especially more than most of our beliefs or practices are considered ‘taboo’,” he said.
Foltz was born and raised in Hooks, Texas, where he was cared for by his mother, who suffered from addiction and poverty after losing her job. Although Foltz also became addicted to drugs at the age of 13, he graduated from high school in 2011.
A lung condition requiring surgery delayed his plan to join the Navy, and while he waited, he became a father. A year later, he saw his daughter take her first steps at the airport as he left to board the plane for boot camp. Foltz completed basic training at the top of his class and, after serving successfully, received an honorable discharge. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
After returning to civilian life, he worked at the Journeys shoe store in Central Mall and found solace there for a time. The work allowed him to reacquaint himself with the world of everyday tasks, and not with training exercises and military jargon.
“I went from part-time to manager of the year in two years. I really enjoyed working at Journeys post-Navy because it gave me the opportunity to explore and express my new self (post- military),” he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Foltz learned that the mall would temporarily close. Then on March 7, 2020, “one of my clients followed me home after work and robbed me at gunpoint. I only knew he was a client because I had sold the shoes to him. that he had on his feet literally three days ahead,” he said.
Enough was enough. Foltz gave his two weeks notice and was told he had won Manager of the Year. He resigned anyway.
“Instead of staying in a promising career, winning awards, promotions and so on, I decided to turn it all down and take a chance,” he said. “I decided I would never work for anyone else again. … The pandemic gave me the funds and the time to explore what I wanted to do moving forward.”
He used this time to focus on holistic therapies for himself, family and friends. Through alternative medicine, Foltz found peace and sobriety and was able to focus and fulfill his mission to help others, he said.
Of course, the pandemic has also had negative effects.
“No one was coming together. Everything was still very divided. That’s when Universal Vibe came along,” Foltz said.
Foltz’s mission for Universal Vibe is to create a safe environment where the community can come together to heal, grow and thrive through music, art and holistic health. The festival is free thanks to sponsorships and the many vendors, volunteers and artists who work at the event. Although attendance at Universal Vibe has grown every year, the event has yet to turn a profit.
Foltz, his wife, Cassie Crabbe, and brother Andrew Foltz pulled out all the stops to make the event a success.
“I literally went door to door to like-minded businesses and said, ‘Hey, this is my idea for our community. I want it to stay free. Can you donate or sponsor us? And literally nobody said no,” he said.
Universal Vibe grew from 20 sellers in year one to 75 in year two and grew from 10 artists to 20 artists. Universal Vibe also held two concerts at Hopkins Ice House in downtown Texarkana, Arkansas. The first show was Building Up Chef Keys, which raised $250 to help buy a new food truck for a friend, and the second was The Joe Show.
“We raised over $1,000 for our buddy who was wrongfully incarcerated for the past two years and was just getting out of jail. It was a huge success,” he said.
Universal Vibe also helped organize another Building Up Chef Keys concert on March 27 at The Dapper at Park Place. There were about 12 vendors and three performers, and over $1,100 was raised for Chef Keys.
Universal Vibe has added an option on its website where people can submit support requests.
“We want to use our platform and follow to help build community by other people in the community. If anyone has a problem, we’ll use all of our resources to help them,” he said. .
Recently, Foltz expanded his businesses to create Taboo Texarkana, an umbrella organization for all the events he intends to host in the Texarkana area.
“I plan to do tattoo conventions and other festivals or events with Taboo. UV has its own brand and target audience, so in a way it’s limited. Taboo is not limited. It can be for everyone,” he said.
Foltz said the hardest part so far has been finding a work-life balance — avoiding becoming so obsessed with Universal Vibe that he overcame his personal life.
“I’m learning everyday to slow down, shut down my laptop, and be where I need me most, with my family,” he said.
Universal Vibe and Taboo Texarkana allow Foltz to pursue his dream of being a family man and helping community members with similar interests. The positive effect the festival has on those who attend has been the most rewarding aspect for Foltz thus far.
“I hear stories of how UV inspired someone to start a business or create more music and art,” he said. “I hear stories of people connecting or reconnecting with loved ones. Stories of coming together between different people’s worlds are what keep me going. I know people frequent UV and find the help or community they need.”