The American Folk Festival has become a way for churches and nonprofits to raise money and their profiles in the community.
Four Bangor area churches, United Cerebral Palsy and the Children’s Miracle Network will join more than 30 other food vendors Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the five food courts at the festival site along the Bangor Waterfront.
While the charitable organizations use the experience to raise their profiles among festivalgoers, the churches raise a proportion of their budgets at the event that draws more than 100,000 hungry music lovers. Church leaders said earlier this week that they raise between 5 percent and 25 percent of their annual budgets at the festival.
“The original goal was strictly fundraising,” Sue Hahn, who organizes volunteers each year for the Hampden Congregational Church’s booth, said Wednesday, “but it’s turned into our biggest fellowship event of the year.”
The church sells an average of 2,500 servings of strawberry and blueberry shortcake each year.
Hahn estimated that three-quarters of the congregation either prepares shortcake or the strawberry and blueberry toppings or staffs the booth during the festival. This year, volunteers will use only wild Maine blueberries and more than 400 quarts of strawberries for its toppings.
“Being at the folk fest really does two things for us besides bringing in some good income,” the Rev. Deb Jenks, pastor of the Hampden church, said. “It’s a chance for the whole church to work together and to kind of show to ourselves our strength as well as to reach out to [the] community.”
The objectives for United Cerebral Palsy are similar at their booth that sells blueberry smoothies.
“Our goals are to work as a team, to share information about UCP with other people, to get our name out there and to let people know that we’re not just about cerebral palsy,” Tish Pendergast, the public relations director for UCP, said Tuesday. “We serve children and adults with numerous disabilities.”
Last year, she said, volunteers sold more than 2,000 smoothies and, this year will add hot and iced blueberry coffee to their menu.
Hammond Street Congregational Church will serve essentially the same meal from its Bake Bean Suppah booth that it has served on Saturday nights at the church for more than four decades. The meal includes a red hot dog on a bun, coleslaw and baked beans. The church also serves a brownie sundae and beverages.
Last year, church members sold 330 bean suppahs, 191 hot dogs, 131 brownies, 251 brownie Alamos and 190 ice creams.
More than 40 people attended a training session Tuesday night in the church basement where the festival booth was set up. Veterans went over food safety and sanitation requirements as well as the importance of customer service and suggestive selling.
“We want people to say, ‘Wow, those Hammond Street people, they were really nice. I’m going to go there again next year,’” Karen Foley told volunteers decked out in identical yellow T-shirts.
Members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, located on Sanford Street in Bangor, again will serve traditional Greek cuisine. Beacon of Hope Church on Union Street in Bangor will offer Maine baked potatoes with toppings, whoopee pies and chocolate chip cookies. The Children’s Miracle Network will sell flavored lemonades and cotton candy.
For more information, visit www.americanfolkfestival.com.