Fiddlehead Festival Back Again in Farmington

Alexis Wyman-LaBelle Contributing Writer

    The Maine Fiddlehead Festival is set to come back to Farmington for the eighth annual event in a new location with live music and activities on campus on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The new location for the festival is the Roberts Learning Center Courtyard and extending into the High Street parking lot, with use of the amphitheatre.

   The event is sponsored by the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC), Farmington Farmers Market and community members. This year’s theme is The Joy of Fermentation, with many different talks and demonstrations. Talks will include different topics such as: Sourdough and Hard Cheese, Kombucha,  Shoyu mushroom ferment, miso, sauerkraut, and an overview presentation on what fermentation is and does to preserve and enhance food, as well as its nutritive qualities.
   “We also hope to have a tasting area for folks to share their home fermentation projects,” said Casey Brackett, a Permaculture Consultant and Community Member,who has been actively involved with planning the event.
   During the festival, there will be performances of live music in the amphitheater by local artists like Sagittarius Rising, Merry Plinksters, Food Stamp Kidz, Franklin County Fiddlers, Invite the Wild, Jonboy Nemo, Crooked Bill, and Nuclear Salad.

  There will be a live cooking demo from Ashley Montgomery, a UMF professor and Assistant Dean of Testing and Learning, on how to prepare fiddleheads.

   The organizing group is excited about the event this year. “It’s also the first day of the outdoor farmers market,” said Brackett. “Vendors will be selling all kinds of food and farm related goods.”

   “In addition to the vendors, there will also be children’s activities, and baby animals,” said Luke Kellet, coordinator of SCC. The festival is expected to have baby goats, lambs, chickens, rabbits, and baby emus.  

   The event usually brings about 300-500 people coming to explore. “This year, we’re expecting a larger group to attend,” said Brackett. “We reached out to fermentation fans.”
   The tradition of the festival began eight years ago on a rainy day. It was organized by a large group of UMF professors, local business people, community food activists as well as others. “It was sparsely attended,” said Brackett, “but everyone who came was extremely enthusiastic.”

   The general idea for a celebration about local food stemmed from the growing threats to the safety of some food products in today’s society. The committee got together and decided it would be best to celebrate the locally grown food and to emphasize positive things about agriculture in the small community of Farmington.

  The rain location will be the Landing. The SCC meets every Friday during the semester from 11:45-1:00 pm in Education Center 113. For questions, the person to contact is Luke Kellet (, the group is open for anyone to join.

Professors with Pets getting a “Paws”-itive Response on Social Media

Professors with Pets getting a “Paws”-itive Response on Social Media

Alexis Wyman-LaBelle

Maybury’s cat, Steekle, showing off his muscles (Photo courtesy of Karol Maybury)

 Contributing Writer

   Pet Instagram accounts are a growing trend on social media, and two UMF professors, Karol Maybury and Misty Krueger, have accounts for their pets and have received a “paws”-itive response from their audience.

   “A few years ago I adopted an eight-year old cat named Fluffy from the Kennebec Valley Humane Society,” said Misty Krueger, an English Professor.  “[I] decided to create the page “What Would Fluffy Do?” to honor her greatness.” Krueger said that the name was inspired by “What Would Jesus Do?” which is a popular meme, along with another inspiration; grumpy cat.

   Krueger thinks the outcome from the Instagram page has been overwhelmingly positivity not only for her but her cat as well. “I think they enjoy her cat-itude.” Krueger added that it was a creative outlet for her to post things in Fluffy’s perspective to share with the 60 followers her cat has.

   “[It’s] a reminder that pets are fun and have funny personalities,” Krueger said, “and pets make people happy whether they are right in front of you ready for petting, or in pictures looking cute.”  

  Karol Maybury, a Psychology professor operates and maintains an Instagram account for her cat, Steekle, and his brother, Cinders. “[It started with a Facebook page] in 2015, as an ongoing joke with my kids,” Maybury said. “After seeing posts on Instagram about people and their pets, and I thought Steekle needed one too. It’s turned into a hobby.”

   Maybury pointed out a correlation between Instagram and envy, and referred to Instagram as a “highlight reel” of people’s lives, and the pet accounts act as a “relief” from expectations of what a “perfect life” looks like. “I try to think of funny or witty things to post to interrupt the ‘look at this fabulous life’ that we see all too often,” Maybury said. “Research even says that the more time you spend on Instagram, the more unhappy you’ll be.”
   “We do a cat of the month,” Maybury said jokingly. “It’s kind of funny because there’s only two of them. I’ll post little flyers around the house saying why they were chosen.”

   The cat of the month is rewarded for little things like great posture, ability to meow and yawn at the same time, and bravery during medical testing (vet visits).

   Between the two of Maybury’s cats there is a slight sibling rivalry. Steekle posted a picture of his brother, Cinders, when he was awarded cat of the month with a sarcastic caption, ‘Even if the Great Bacon Incident hadn’t disqualified me, Cinders still deserves his moment in the sun.’

   Both Krueger and Maybury see the positive impact that these humorous posts have on their following. Steekler, Maybury’s cat, has 125 followers that like the witty posts told in his perspective. A popular photo of Steekler’s is a photo where he is showing off his biceps while sitting in a chair, and another one where his ‘human sister,’ Grace McIntosh, is grooming his stomach with the caption ‘If you’re seeking a valentine in 2019 (I personally love my life as a bachelor) I have one word of advice: grooming! Don’t forget the oft-overlooked tummy region. I’ve found it’s the first place a lady looks to see if a gentleman takes care of himself.

   Maybury proposed implementing a cat-friendly dorm, in which the pets would be guaranteed to have their shots up-to-date and to be certified therapeutic animals. Maybury says it could be limited to one dorm in which the students don’t have allergies to the animals. The goal would be to help provide a little extra love to those students away from home.
   People interested in following these pets on social media can find them at @_steekle_ on Instagram and @whatwouldfluffydo on Facebook.

UMF Intervarsity Fellowship Helping After the Hurricane

UMF Intervarsity Fellowship Helping After the Hurricane

Alexis Wyman-LaBelle  Staff Reporter


Students Jessica Doyon and Katie Franke working at the bake sale to earn money for the Puerto Rico trip in March. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Wyman-Labelle)

   The Intervarsity fellowship is preparing to go to Puerto Rico to help rebuild after the destruction after Hurricane Maria. The hurricane left the island without power and with an estimate over $8 million in damage.

   Intervarsity is a Christian fellowship on campus that partnered with ServeUp, a national organization that sets up missions trips, to make this trip happen. 20 students plan on attending this trip to Puerto Rico during spring break. Each of the attendees needs approximately $800 to attend. The plane tickets have been purchased by Intervarsity already so the students are hard at work trying to make enough money.

   Emily Murphy, a junior, is a participant who’s been actively involved with planning the trip is excited to attend. Murphy has been taking trips like these since her Freshman year, when a trip to New Orleans was offered.

   The goals of the trips taken are often to rebuild communities that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Intervarsity has never traveled to Puerto Rico before. Prior to this, they’ve traveled to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  Murphy says these trips are the best weeks of her life.

   “Doing something meaningful for other people,” Murphy exclaimed, “is a great way to spend spring break.”

   The trip is currently being funded by the students who are participating. Funding opportunities such as a bake sale and bottle drive have been executed. The members and participants of the trip have also discussed holding a community dinner to help with the overall cost.

   Another attendee, Jessica Doyon, a junior, is an Intervarsity member who is attending the trip, thinks this will be a meaningful experience. “The goal is to take what we hear from the news and experience it ourselves,” Doyon said. Doyon is also excited about meeting new people, and forming new relationships with other students.
   Doyon is an education major who is currently focusing on age groups birth to 5-years-old and kindergarten to third grade.

   “This trip will be a  great way to connect,” Doyon said. “It’s a great way for people you see everyday to get closer with them. I can’t wait to spend my time helping people.”

   During the week the students are down there, the opportunity to interact with the community is available to them. They are able to play with the local children which will be especially fun for Doyon and Shaoning Gu.
   Shaoning Gu, an exchange student from Shijiazhuang, China is also attending the trip.

   “I know there are many homeless people there, I am hoping to build houses and play with the kids,” Gu said in an online interview. Gu is hoping to bring awareness of the people in Puerto Rico who need prayers and care to UMF. Gu is hoping by going on this trip, she’ll make friends and understand Christianity.

   The goal of the trip is to take what the students have heard in the news about the devastating hurricane and bring the experience back to Farmington, and how they can use it to benefit themselves and others. Students will learn about the different community style in Puerto Rico and how it differs from the United States.