big ideas

Anne Sweeney is the mastermind behind the Midsummer Under the Moon festival. This is her “gypsy caravan” she plans to deck out and sell wares out of at various places.

Anne Sweeney had quite the burst of creative energy recently.

First, it’s important to point out, she’s never taken a business class in her life. Secondly, she’s on her way to earning a master’s degree in literature and a certificate to teach English as a Second Language.

So, it’s a bit unclear where the swell of inspiration came from to start her own company putting on and promoting other people’s events. Or to build a camper/gypsy caravan to sell goods out of at various places. Or to make the first event her company puts on such a huge one.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Inspiration strikes where it will. And, certainly, it has.

The premiere Midsummer Under the Moon Festival, put on by Grassroots Marketing, LLC, is Friday through Sunday on a farm called Sanctuary near Franklin, owned by a friend of Sweeney. About 15 bands and 15 speakers will be featured. And Sweeney of Mankato managed to pull it all together for, so far, about $850.

“First, I was going to throw a block party with, like, 40 people there,” she said. “Then, when we decided to do it at the farm, we thought 50 or 60 people. Then it turned into this large camping festival.”

Sweeney hopes the event will help promote the music and arts in the area and to help show other people that putting an event like this on is possible. It will also serve as an example to potential clients about what her company is capable of. She hopes to help other people putting on festivals with various marketing tools, such as Web design and flyering, at an affordable rate.

Sweeney has had help planning the festival. Tom Heffernan and Adam Greeley, both of Mankato, have been helping pull everything together, including getting the stage lined up and networking with the musicians to piece together the needed sound equipment.

Greeley had actually been envisioning a politically motivated festival with speakers and community focused workshops. But Sweeney was clear on her vision. Still, there’s always room for compromise. The trio decided to put their ideas together to form a multifaceted festival featuring speakers, political workshops, a short film festival, local bands, an open mic stage and a flea market.

“It kind of became a community event,” Heffernan said.

Sweeney is hoping to make Midsummer Under the Moon Festival an annual event, as well as a couple of other festivals she has in mind. She’s hoping to put something together for Halloween as well.

In addition, Sweeney has purchased and is decking out what she calls a “gypsy caravan,” which will serve as a traveling camper. She’ll sell T-shirts, ceramic walking sticks and various other items as a little side business.

— Brittney Hansen contributed

to this story.

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