Children run through bubbles during the Flower Moon Garden Party on Harpswell Neck. (EMILY SWAN PHOTO)

The sound of the ’70s is alive and well in Harpswell, and so is the spirit of care and community engagement.

The Harpswell Neck property of Stephen and Ginny Chipman was transformed on May 14, as the 2022 Garden Party Series kicked off with the Flower Moon Garden Party. In collaboration with Music for Meals, the Garden Party Series will donate 100% of proceeds to fighting food insecurity in the Midcoast.

Michael Cross, lead singer of The Frank Burns Band, summarized the Garden Party Series best, saying performers, concertgoers and volunteers are connected by a “commitment to feeding people, loving music and having fun.”

The Flower Moon Garden Party was the first of three festivals this season. Next up is the Buck Moon Garden Party on July 23, then the Harvest Moon Garden Party on Sept. 17.

The festivals last one day, but about three-quarters of the Flower Moon audience camped overnight. About 75 tickets were sold. Promoters hope the summer festivals will attract larger numbers.

The Tom Faunce Floyd Experience begins its headlining performance at the Flower Moon Garden Party. The band specializes in the music of Pink Floyd. (EMILY SWAN PHOTO)

A donation box at the Flower Moon Garden Party. The Garden Party Series benefits efforts to prevent food insecurity in the region. (EMILY SWAN PHOTO)

Angus Webster, founder of Music for Meals and one of the series’ promoters, summarized his motivation for creating Music for Meals. “Food is important, as well as a roof over one’s head. I thought that was a good place to start,” he said.

A volunteer from the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program attended the event, coordinating donations and actualizing the Music for Meals vision of “feeding spirit through song.”

Heather Hartford, a donor and coordinator of the event, said that “100% of all donations and ticket sales are going to feed the hungry.”

“This is my legacy,” Hartford said. Spectators could feel Hartford’s commitment to this mission in every aspect of the festival; her heart and spirit infused the day with warmth and love.

The festival included performances by Brendan Prince, The Frank Burns Band, the Kevin Roper Project, Funktapuss and the Tom Faunce Floyd Experience. The music was an eclectic mix of rock ‘n’ roll with folk, pop and other styles.

Although most attendees, performers and vendors came for the music, many said they stayed for the community.

Funktapuss lead singer Latez Crowley said, “We’ve been playing so long, we now just get to do some really special gigs like this one.” The band traveled from Cape Cod to perform.

Jessie, a vendor at the festival, reiterated this sentiment, saying, “I do this for the sense of community and the music. It’s all about the people for me.”

Garden Party Series donor and organizer Heather Hartford (left) and volunteer David Erlebach attend the Flower Moon Garden Party. (EMILY SWAN PHOTO)
Funktapuss performs at the Flower Moon Garden Party on Harpswell Neck. (EMILY SWAN PHOTO)

After two years of COVID-19 precautions, social distancing and anxiety, there was a great level of excitement about coming together to share in the joys of music.

The festival was a team effort. “It’s all a movie and we play our parts,” Webster said.

Stephen Chipman, a member of The Frank Burns Band and owner of the property, provided space for people to camp overnight. His son, Parker, built the stage, as well as wooden art installations that added to the magical atmosphere.

The event also included food, art and clothing vendors. Kila and Brandon Naradovy’s Kona Girl Fruit Company food truck provided the perfect refreshments for an 80-degree day. Other vendors included Luna Healing Massages, Art by Megastar, and another food truck.

The Flower Moon Garden Party was a testament to music’s ability to bring people together. As organizer David Erlebach said, “Peace, music, live a good life. That’s all there is to it.”

Emily Swan is a junior at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she is majoring in political science. She graduated from Brunswick High School in 2020.