September 30, 2013

Music, art and charity mark Great North Fest

The festival in Norridgewock was the scene of fun and kindness as Strangers Helping Strangers collected items for a food bank.

By Jesse Scardina
Staff Writer

NORRIDGEWOCK - Hundreds of enthusiastic music and art fans converged at Last Breath Farm for the Great North Fest, a weekend-long festival that combined live music and whimsical artwork with a communal atmosphere.

click image to enlarge

Aiden Henderson of Portland does some "air rake" as bands played during the Great North Fest music event in Norridgewock on Sunday.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

Roughly 1,500 people attended the three-day event, which featured a main stage, a painting tent and dozens of food and merchandise vendors.

"People are just here to have a good time, and if you needed help, people have been extremely helpful," said Cheyenne Brown, one of the co-producers of the festival. She, her boyfriend Chris Cote and many others worked for more than a year to make the festival happen.

"We've been planning this for quite a while with a lot of people," Brown said.

Beyond finding a suitable location, booking performers and organizing a marketing and promotion campaign, dozens of vendors were sought to provide food, beverages and merchandise such as shirts, hats, jewelry and blown glass.

One vendor, familiar at festivals throughout New England, is asking for food rather than selling it.

Strangers Helping Strangers is a Massachusetts non-profit organization that collects donated or leftover non-perishable food and unused hygiene products that it can donate to local food pantries.

Since 1997, Strangers Helping Strangers has gone to hundreds of events, gathering everything from Ramen Noodles to baby powder. Started in conjunction with the Vermont-based band Strangefolk, the organization now has volunteers throughout New England and New York.

"It started with just a table at a Strangefolk concert," said Andie Burke, a local volunteer at Great North Fest. "A group of people got together and said 'you know what, we can do this'."

Strangers Helping Strangers organized 489 food drives in 2012, donating all the compiled items to local food banks, according to its website. After Great North Fest finishes, all proceeds gathered by the organization will be donated to the Greater Waterville Area Food Bank.

Burke said what had been collected by Sunday afternoon was minimal, but she was hesitant to say how much, because collecting being done at the entrance, where $5 would be taken off the ticket price with a donation, hadn't been counted yet.

"If we can get one item, somebody else is going to be happy," Burke said.

Burke said the organization contacted Great North Fest about setting up at the festival.

"Great North Fest worked with us to get this spot and to collect things at the gate," Burke said.

The Great North Fest was the latest incarnation of a summer music festival held on Last Breath Farm, whose owner, Tim Rogers, has hosted events since 1997. More than 50 music acts performed and 25 visual artists showed at the festival.


Jesse Scardina can be reached at 861-9239 or at:


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