MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Susan Divine has spent the past nine years working as Hiawatha Music Co-op’s Executive Director, but she has only missed one festival since 1987.
Divine says she started as executive director in 2012.
“This is a retirement job for me in itself and I came from having worked in mental health for 40 years and when I retired I didn’t know what I was going to do and a friend of mine said ‘hey you know Hiawatha’s looking for an executive director’ and it just so happened to be a good time for me to jump in,” said Divine.
Divine says during her years working for Hiawatha, there has been growth.
“When I first started there was the festival, there was the annual meeting in the fall and there was maybe one or two other events,” said Divine. “And since then our concert and event committee has been extremely active and we started our Hiawatha on T.A.P.P. monthly concert series which is held at the Ore Dock and that’s been really fun to do.”
They have also partnered with the City of Marquette Art and Cultural Center for their art week events and Hiawatha even has their own beer from Blackrocks Brewery.
“We’ve partnered with the Blackrocks to have our beer, our name and our logo for the festival put on a beer can every year and they sell a certain amount of six-packs in the community before, during and after the festival,” said Divine. “So one of the things that really has grown over the past nine years is involvement in the community.”
Divine says it takes a lot of volunteers to put on the festival and to plan the year-round events.
“The co-op is run by a lot of volunteers including the board of directors and so it’s me as the director conducting the business for everybody but it’s also the volunteers including all of the volunteers it takes to put on the festival which is in the hundreds,” said Divine.
Hiawatha’s executive director is the office and business manager, financial manager, social media and website manager, and also trains volunteers. Divine says someone who is friendly and good at multitasking would fit the role well.
“One of my roles as executive director is festival director so a lot of the other things kind of stop when we’re in festival planning mode between January and July and I am the festival director so I am coordinating 36 area coordinators that are responsible for the different areas at the festival,” said Divine.
Divine will stay on to help the new executive director learn the ropes through the next festival. She also says even after she is done as executive director she’ll still continue coming to the festival.
“My family and I have been coming to the festival and attending Hiawatha events since 1987 and we missed one year,” said Divine. “We missed 1988 but we have been going ever since and my children have grown up there and now my grandchildren are coming as well.”
The Hiawatha Music Co-op is still assessing whether this year’s festival will be safe to put on but is still hosting weekly virtual shows on their Facebook. Divine says donations are accepted for the show with the money being split half and half between Hiawatha Music Co-op and the artists.
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