Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association


Susan Pierce to Direct National Folk Festival in Bangor
MOFGA To Host Short Course on Farm Management & Marketing

Susan Pierce to Direct National Folk Festival in Bangor

Susan Pierce
Susan Pierce is leaving MOFGA after 14 years to direct the National Folk Festival in Bangor. English photo.

By Rhonda Houston

Fourteen years ago, Susan Pierce decided to leave the sun of California and return to the state of her childhood. Back in Maine, she began a new career as Director of a small, organic festival in Windsor, Maine. In the 10 years of Susan's turn as Common Ground Country Fair Director, attendance grew to upwards of 50,000 people and the Fair abandoned its transient past for a permanent home in Unity. Susan gained a reputation as a quick-thinking leader of a large contingent of volunteers who prided themselves on either being leaders or wanderers, but quite rarely followers. In a job dependent on the dedication of volunteers, Susan was a stand-out leader who made sure each volunteer knew the value of his or her services – with a quick smile or a plate of her famous chili. Since Susan's arrival, MOFGA volunteers have been nothing if not well fed.

After 10 years as Fair Director, Susan was ready for a new challenge. Heather Spalding was hired in 1997 to become the next Fair Director. Heather had the advantage of having Susan in the next office when negotiating the obstacles of the Fair.

"When I accepted my position as Susan's assistant back in 1997,1 didn't realize that I was getting much more than a cool job with MOFGA. I soon realized I was also getting a great friend and mentor who made my transition into Fair Director a really smooth one. She was always so enthusiastic and supportive of me that I felt pretty confident about run- ning the Fair. Five years later, I still turn to Susan for guidance, and she still helps with wisdom, love and laughter. She helps me through the chaos. No wonder my husband and kids love her too!"

MOFGA had been hosting events in addition to the Fair for years, but there was much room for growth in this important area. MOFGA wanted its Unity site to become a year-round educational facility, and Susan was up to the task of organizing these events. When asked what her favorite event was – excluding the big one – Susan stressed that the decision was hardly an easy one. "The annual Farmer to Farmer Conference has been one of my favorites." Susan went on to explain that the conference not only was a valuable service to our farmers, but also encouraged the large hotel where the conference was held to make a year-round commitment to local foods. This kind of educational leadership is the heart of MOFGA and all the events it has held over the years.

After a 14-year career, Susan is ready for yet another challenge. She is leaving MOFGA to help start the latest celebration of Maine and its rich culture. As Director of the National Folk Festival in Bangor, Susan is calling on many of the qualities that made her time at MOFGA a success, including her ability to organize volunteers. Volunteering is the heart of the Festival, so Susan's experience with MOFGA and the Fair will be invaluable. The National Folk Festival, being held the weekend before Labor Day for the next three years, has many similar attributes to Common Ground, but Susan sees the two as complementary rather than competitive. Though local food is highlighted at the festival, most emphasis is placed on demonstrations of traditional folk arts.

Henry David Thoreau once described Bangor as a "star on the edge of night." Sadly, MOFGA is losing one of its most enduring stars to this growing city. However, if her commitment to the Festival is as unwavering as her commitment to MOFGA was for so long, Bangor and its celebration of our cultural heritage can only shine brighter.

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MOFGA To Host Short Course on Farm Management & Marketing

MOFGA will host a short course entitled "Basics of Farm Management & Marketing" at the Common Ground Education Center in Unity on March 2 from 9:30 am - 3 pm. The course will provide an overview of opportunities for marketing local, organic food. MOFGA's Executive Director, Russell Libby, will share his experience in marketing organic produce and will touch on some essential skills and strategies for success. The course fee is $40.00. Lunch will be included.

The course is open to the public. MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center is located on the Crosby Brook Road, off of Route 220, in the town of Unity. For more information, contact MOFGA at 207-568-4142.

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MOF&G Cover Spring 2002