BANGOR, Maine — Perhaps the only thing better than enjoying the food and music at the American Folk Festival is the people you meet there.
Artists from all over are arriving in Bangor, eager to share their crafts. There are a few new faces you'll see there this year, including three women, from Maine, who have all discovered a way to make a business out of making the things they love.
Fresh Harvest in a Jar
Julia McCracken could be considered an empty nester.
"My biggest thing after not working for 25 years, it's like, 'who's going to hire me? What can I do?'"
But the kitchen at her Topsham home is far from empty.
McCracken makes jam and lots of it. With more than 30 different varieties her inventory has taken over the dining room, too. It takes her an hour for each batch.
You do the math.
She says the time she pours in though, is all worth it.
"It's great for my self-esteem," said McCracken. "It is all mine and it's nice to know people appreciate it."
A business she says started by accident after her sister said, "you should sell it!"
And the rest, as they say, is history.
"10 years making jam," she said. "But it's still fun and as long as it's fun I'll keep doing it."
Marrick Auger is a young mom who took a leap of faith when she started her own Biddeford based business.
"It's always going to be scary to take that leap," she said. "And when your bills keep coming in, you will hustle and you will sell stuff and make sure you can do your passion."
That hustle really started for Marrick out of frustration.
"I had a lot of skin problems in my early 20s and I could not find anything at the store that would work."
But in order to really get started, she first had to swallow her pride.
"I used to make soap with my mom growing up and I thought it was the worst, most boring thing in the world and it all came back around," she explained. "I called my mom one day and had her come up and teach me again. And then the little side project I was going to do myself turned into a full-blown business."
Making those soaps turned into a slippery slope, in the best of ways. She also has an entire jewelry line made from Maine stones.
"I'll know as soon as I see a stone that I can use it, and what it's going to be."
Two different creations both from her heart, and a little help from mom.
"Doesn't get better than that."
Wanting to spice up her weeknight dinners, Jessica Moore started making spices with her sister.
"You can only cook chicken so many ways," she said. "I decided to start Regina Spices, inspired by my maternal grandmother who is Regina. To just do the blends that I've enjoyed doing and the fun stuff."
Fun stuff like spices made from smoked tea.
"I like to sample it on potato chips and so when you taste it, it will taste like a barbecue chip that doesn't have any heat to it."
You won't find any basic table salt in her kitchen unless it's mixed with fresh herbs. She recommends using up extra basil by blending it with kosher salt.
"You could even get fancy with some cocktails if you wanted to do an exotic rimmer."
Her exotic spices are packed and ready to bring flavor to the American Folk Festival.
"We'd like to have a good time."