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87-year-old artist's work to be showcased at one-of-a-kind festival in Bangor

Meet Diana Young, an 87-year-old artist whose work documents changing values in the Coe Park neighborhood.

There's a festival happening this weekend in Bangor that's about much more than fun and games.

Sunday’s Coe Park Fun-Run and Festival is about taking a closer look at the problems facing a historic neighborhood.

Organizers are using community artists like Diana Young to help illuminate life in Coe Park.

Sean Faircloth, one of the organizers of the festival, runs Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center. He says Young does beautiful artwork in this section of town. She also spent many years documenting historic changes in the Coe Park neighborhood, including an area behind Hope House plagued with drug use and homelessness.

Diana Young is an 87-year-old artist who's been living in the Coe Park neighborhood for 49 years. She reflects on a changing neighborhood.

“Most we think about it is, oh it’s a breathing space. It’s a green space. Or, oh dear! Homeless people are making a mess down in one end of it or something like that,” bemoans Young.

Young explained her artistic process, saying, “I did a lot of sketches and photos of the homeless up there well in their tents. ‘Tent City’ is what they called it.”

She continued, “That's why I'm hoping this effort will really help people understand the asset that this neighborhood is. You know, it's one thing to complain about folks who have overdoses or folks who are ‘unhomed.'"

Faircloth says Together Place regularly hosts art and creative writing groups. As a result, this event will not only showcase established artists like Young but also those in drug recovery programs.

“We are going to have people who are in recovery helping with this event and participating in this event," expressed Faircloth.

He continued, “To me, it’s a great civic value that's kind of underplayed, as far as something that we need to really emphasize as a whole community."

According to the Maine Monthly overdose report, in 2022, drugs claimed 106 lives in that county and 130 in Cumberland County. But Penobscot County is two times smaller than Cumberland County.  

Organizers are staging this festival in Bangor to encourage folks to seek help and for the community to extend help to those who need it.

Young echoed, “Now I'm just grateful that the city planners put it there in the first place and hope that it can be a magnet for the neighborhood in a good way.”

That’s also the hope of organizers of the festival and folks who live in the Coe Park neighborhood.

“This neighborhood wouldn't be anywhere near as nice if it didn't have Coe Park,” beamed Young.

Food AND Medicine, the Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center, and the Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness are the festival organizers. They say it takes a community to preserve Bangor's streets.

The festival is free and open to the public. In addition, the county will facilitate public bus rides that day. The Route 1 Capehart line will be used as a community connector to Coe Park.

The Coe Park Fun and Run Festival debuts Sunday, not Saturday as previously announced. It will feature a 3k run, free food, horse and wagon rides, games, and the start of a communal garden.

Visit the Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center's webpage for more details on the event.

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