Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 29 : Summer 2016 - Page 30

What I quickly learned on the job was trust your volunteers, trust your gut and pray for good weather. The Maine Potato Blossom Festival Organizing Committee was invaluable in guiding me as we looked at what is working and at what could be improved. There were numerous offers of support, and a formidable team of event organizers in place willing to make sure their component of the Festival is taken care of. We made some changes, invested in the infrastructure of the event and added more performances. The results were larger crowds and building momentum since the fireworks finale echoed through the river valley. We’ll have even more new offerings this year, like the first-ever International Tater Tot Eating Competition, and a slew of bands from throughout Maine and New England will take the Festival Main Stage for four nights this year, but many things will also remain the same. Friends from far and wide will return to their roots, visit like no time has passed, and town will become a city – if only for a week. We’ll enjoy traditional events like potato picking or mashed potato wrestling. We’ll eat too much fried dough and sample some of the creative new potato-based menu items in the food court. And, without trying, we’ll create new memories that will be sparked by a smell or a sound in the distant future, and wonder why something so simple made such as lasting impression. Each Festival is different, but it is up to us to determine our role in the event. That may be the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my years as an attendee and my brief stint as director, the level of engagement and effort you put into something directly impacts what you get out of it. I have now experienced the Maine Potato Blossom Festival as a child, as an adult, as a parent and as the event director – and my love for the Festival only 28 SUMMER 2016 continues to grow. I certainly put more into the Festival now than I ever did, and while it leaves little room to relax, I reap the rewards of that effort knowing that all that hard work is influencing how others enjoy the event and view our community. Maybe that is part of growing older, gaining perspective on who I am, and what I am interested in at this stage in my life. As a parent, I get to relive the wonder the Festival instilled in me as a child, and to be goofy and silly and ingest way too much sugar. As an adult, I get to enjoy some of my favorite bands with some of my favorite people. As the Festival Director, I get to see a year’s worth of work and planning put into motion, building in intensity over nine days, yet over in just a blink of an eye. Much like the parade that passes by my parent’s house, full of noise, color and fun, each Maine Potato Blossom Festival leaves its imprint on the past. Knowing that is good for my soul, and why there is no better week of the year in our community than the one which ends on the third Sunday in July.