Folk festival needs help to stay afloat

Posted Aug. 28, 2009, at 7:02 p.m.

The planners of the American Folk Festival have struggled alongside all of the other nonprofits in the area for funds this year.

Whether it’s the homeless shelter, the Bangor Humane Society or the Eastern Area Aids Network, volunteers have spent even more time than usual competing for the funds necessary to keep their programs and agencies viable.

Those donations come from big and small businesses and generous citizens, most of whom have seen their own revenue decline during this epic economic downturn.

Despite this hurdle, the American Folk Festival kicked off Friday night with all of the hope and enthusiasm it has brought with it every other year.

This year the festival faces perhaps its biggest foe — a dreary weather forecast.

Today’s Poll

What do you enjoy most about The American Folk Festival?

Music

Dancing

Food

On Thursday as we watched the preparations along the Bangor Waterfront, I told my sister that I worried how the “soaking rain” forecast for today would affect not only the excitement for the festival, but the fundraising as well.

With most of the large corporate and private donations already in place and below the necessary level, this year more than ever the festival’s survival is going to depend on the generosity of those attending who donate to the Bucket Brigade.

“Even if it downpours on Saturday, we will still donate the same amount of money as we always do to the Bucket Brigade,” my sister said. “I think most people will do the same thing.”

The father of a friend of mine is physically unable to attend the festival, yet he, too, was worried about the effect the rain would have on the financial viability of the event.

“My father can’t go, but he always gives money to members of the family to donate to the Bucket Brigade,” my friend said this week. “He was concerned if it was a washout that none of us would go. He told me that even if it was raining someone had to go to drop off his donation.”

I certainly understand that a “soaking rain” could keep many people home today. But with a better forecast for Sunday, it’s important for people to enjoy the festival while keeping in mind that the cost of putting on this three-day event is the same, whether the weather cooperates or not.

So I’ll use this small space allotted to me each week to encourage all of you to dig just a bit deeper this weekend knowing that the forecast rain might have a serious effect on the bottom line of the Bucket Brigade.

While any organization relies heavily on large corporate sponsorships, there are only so many of those dollars to go around. The foundation for the festival is the volunteers and the donations of all of those who attend the free event.

Every dollar bill helps. Every $5 bill helps more.

For decades city leaders have struggled to find a way to make Bangor a destination spot, rather than a pit stop on the way to coastal locations.

For this one weekend a year it is.

Marc Hatch and his daughter Aimee Teagan of Portsmouth, N.H., were in town Friday. Three years ago Marc and a bunch of his buddies stumbled upon the festival while taking a motorcycle tour of the Maine coast.

Marc and his daughter, as well as other family members, are having a reunion of sorts in Bangor this weekend in order to enjoy the festival.

They, as well as thousands of others, will fill hotel rooms and restaurants while enjoying the diversity of the music along the waterfront.

Many of us have cut back on our entertainment budgets this year, ironically at a time when we perhaps need more entertainment than ever.

Since the first year of the National Folk Festival in Bangor, the people and businesses have stepped up to support this phenomenal event.

Whether you enjoy it all three days or for just one afternoon, keep in mind your part and drop a bit in the bucket.

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