Mateel Moves Forward with Summer Arts Fair

At the February meeting of the Mateel Community Center, Board members showed their excitement about plans for this year’s Summer Arts and Music Festival even as they continue to cope with the fallout from the Mateel’s financial debt. And while the Board is largely reluctant to plan for returning the Mateel Meal program to the hall, it did authorize volunteers to resume the search for funding.


Office Manager Charity Green said 99% of the phone calls she receives right now are from people asking for word on the destiny of the Reggae on the River festival. However, Board member Dusty Hughston said the Mateel did not yet have an announcement about Reggae 2018.

Finance Committee:

During the finance committee report, Board President Garth Epling said the meeting with Patrick Swartz of North Point Financial Resourcing and Solutions LLC of Arcata went well. Epling said, “At our last meeting, we met with our new financial consultant….Even despite his …straight and narrow corporate world history, he seems like a good fit for communicating with our unique organization here.”

The Mateel expects a preliminary report on his analysis of its financial dilemma sometime in March. The Board continues to meet more than once a month. In other financial news, the Board expects a refund check from Sysco for about $9,000 and has raised around $10,000 with the crowdsource campaign for Garth’s debt to Sysco. The next pressing debt the Mateel is facing is for their modular office rentals during last Reggae. The debt is currently $28,000 however, if the Board can raise $15,000 “very very soon,” the company would forgive the rest of the debt.

The 2015 audit had not yet been submitted. (Though it has been by now, according to Green.) When asked, Epling began, “We are under contract with our auditor, and he just sent some reassuring email….” Epling was interrupted by Hughston who said, “We still have weeks, and [the auditor] says he’ll be done for sure, and the people he is sending it to were totally nonchalant about any sort of rush at all.”

Summer Arts and Music Festival:

In the meantime, the Board is moving forward with Summer Arts and Music Festival.  The Board is enthusiastic about their plans for reorganizing the festival grounds. The pedestrian entrance at the freeway on-ramp, known as South Gate, will now open directly into the kids’ zone and the fairway. Board Member Dusty Hughston expanded on the redesign. He explained,

We are looking at an actual arched entryway, balloons, bouncy house, concessions, stage in the round so that you can walk straight across the road right into the major kids zone. Pooba wants to build the stage-in-the-round…and is teaming up with other Summer Arts volunteers on the project.

Board Members went on to explain the “Summertronica” stage will move down to the site of what has long been the Solar Stage which will now be eliminated.

According to Hughston, these changes will open up space in the middle fairway giving belly dancers and other lawn stage performers more focus and drawing more foot traffic into the back lane of vending booths.

Dear Coordinator:

During the Public Comment period, board members heard Babette Bach chastising them for the way they have approached their volunteers as they scale back crew sizes for Summer Arts. A letter sent to approximately 20 people who won’t be needed as coordinators this year is addressed “Dear Coordinator” and moves on to explain that reorganization means, “While we appreciate your previous years’ effort, we will not need you as a coordinator this year, Please feel free to contact Anne for volunteer opportunities…”

Babbette explained to the Board that this style of communication leaves long-term volunteers feeling unneeded at a time when the Mateel appears to need all the help it can get. Bach said,

“We are volunteers: the volunteers that are asked to go the extra mile, and do the extra jobs. We are also part of the community. The same community you are asking money from, saying ‘help us out; go fund us.’ To me it’s a really short-sighted way of treating people in the community that you want backing from.’”

Board members said, while they knew that crews and coordinators were being downsized, they had not seen this letter before it went out. Board members agreed that the communication would tend to lead people to think they were being uninvited to participate further.

Garth Epling, Board President apologized. “I’m personally sorry that it went down that way,” he said. The Board determined to direct the staff member to call those coordinators and invite their continued support.

Mateel Meal

Back in September, the Board suspended the Mateel Meal until January. The Mateel Meal has not yet resumed. Board Member Megan Gomes explained, “I believe the feeling we had was that we would be more solvent at this point and be able to bring this community service back. And we are not solvent yet.”

Hughston added, “Our fiduciary duty lies with the Mateel before it lies with its programs… .”

Newly seated Board Member Bruce Champee expressed support for the Meal and asked about its funding resources, “Is anybody looking at writing grants that would support the Mateel Meal?”

Board Member Anna Rogers acknowledged a need for the Meal, “Homelessness, houselessness, hunger is not a thing that is going away…It may be that getting these kinds of grants will only become easier.”

However, support appears mitigated. Board member Pleasure Strange said, “I think that taking the Meal off our grounds, and to not bring that element back, I think would be an important factor for the Meal.”

Nonetheless, volunteers are authorized to seek funding sources and will bring proposals back to the board.

And More

In the Building report, the Board heard that Board Member Bruce Champee continues to work with volunteers making improvements to the hall and property. Lights are going onto the exterior stairs for safety and ambiance, the door to the patio is being repaired, the liquor closet is now more secure, and the kitchen will soon get a larger gas line to better accommodate the stove.

In program news, traditional programs at the Mateel include Missoula Children’s Theatre and the San Francisco Mime Troup. While the Mateel is struggling to find the funds for both, the Board does expect to bring them back. For the Mime Troup, longtime member Sonja Bauer pledged to pay for the difference between the ticket sales and the Troup’s $4,000 fee. Tonya Malley, the Sponsorship Coordinator, has reported she has received pledges of financial sponsorship for the Missoula Children’s Theatre.

Author’s note: For full disclosure, this reporter has coordinated the performer check-in booth for Summer Arts and Reggae since 2008, and received the letter to the coordinators. 



  • This letter was just sent to the Mateel from the State AG March 5, 2018:

    Now with that being said, the AG is not just asking for audits, the Mateel did not submit their 2016 990 tax return ending 12/31/2016 or RRF-1 State financial report ending 12/31/2016.

    Please note what the letter stipulates:

    “Please submit the following items to cure the delinquency (without a hearing):”

    • Thanks for this document, Ed.

      Buy a ticket from the Mateel, if you choose to. Just don’t pay in cash!

      Good luck with your $25 admission craft fair.

  • Sounds like the Accounting office of MCC has been having quite a bit of trouble fulfilling their duties for awhile now. Sad. Hope someone can untangle this mess before the price tag gets any higher. How much longer can they hold on before it all seriously catches up with them?

  • coordinators are a paid position, sounds like mateel saving money. good to see adjustments being made
    can’t wait for samf, thanks MCC for being there

    • Most likely the coordinators you are talking about would have donated their time to make this party happen but the feeling of being left out some will probably not even go that should save you a lot of money the community center was built on parties for the community not on paying for some to party in the community While most are left out the heart of the community’s has been wounded for a long time now it’s not going to be a easy thing to get back together better start doing the right thing porta potties an shuttle services still need to be paid from reggae are you planning on paying them up front on money taken from loans I hope that the Mattel Center has good fire insurance so if worse comes to worse at least there’s some dirt to start stacking rocks on shame on the moon you might be burning down your own house

  • The form letter to coordinators is not surprising. The Mateel has never been great about offering appreciation to the people who volunteer for them.

  • Save the Eel. Cancel Reggae permanently.

  • I have two questions;

    1. The 2018 SAMF web page say’s: “This year we will be increasing the emphasis on the Kids Zone and Youth stage and will bring the community even more local talent and entertainment.” Does this mean you will not have vendors promoting local cannabis farms, businesses and the Humboldt cannabis industry at SAMF 2018?

    2. How come the Mateel stopped the Calfresh Outreach Partnership Funding with Humboldt County DHHS; which is approx $47K per fiscal year, per partner? In years past, this funding had been used to supplement the Mateel Meal Program, i.e. Personnel Costs, Administrative/Operational Costs, Consumables/Supplies and improvements to the Mateel Kitchen.

  • The spoke people for the mateel really sound stupid and like country yuppies. Your answers are all vague and like politics, never revealing everything. Y’all nessed up and got in serious debt and now it’s always a poor me this and poor me that and the economy and blah blah. The mateel sucks as a concert promotor, reggae on the river on has a history, that’s it. Thise festival grounds are some of the worst. Period. Anyone that goes to festivals knows this is true. The mateel is the culmination or hippicrite pot growers who think they are someone more advanced. Garth says “narrow corporate view” like he doesn’t have a “narrow Humboldt rasied view” just cuz your kin is tapped in to conscious action doesn’t mean you are bud . Just please mateel, go away and stop acting like it’s anyone’s fault but your horrible management.

  • Since the Mateel did not want to answer my question, I contacted State Parks and here’s what they said:

    Cannabis sale or consumption is illegal in California State Parks. I am forwarding your inquiry to the superintendent for the region so that he can provide more detail to you.

    Best regards

    Dennis Weber, Manager
    Communications Office/California State Parks
    (916) 651-8724 /
    P.O. Box 942896, Sacramento, CA 942896-0001

    And I guess the answer is NO!

    State Parks will abide by the regulations set forth in Prop 64. Vendors will not be allowed to sell marijuana. State Parks would like to keep Summer Arts and Music Festival a family friendly event and limit it to vendors who represent Arts, Music, and Food and not the sale, production, and business aspect of marijuana. If you have any questions please email me.


    Gregory J Hall
    Supervising Ranger
    Eel River Sector
    North Coast Redwoods District
    (707)247-3319 office

    So do some of the SAMF Sponsors and vendors that represent the local cannabis industry know this?

  • Evil grape Growers what will they do drink the evil grape juice next thing you know they’ll be partying on the river look at them all I don’t even feel like driving South anymore one giant cesspool Festival it happens every day down there stop the evil grape Growers the biggest water diversion on the Eel River what do you mean Bohemian Grove that’s all just a conspiracy theory don’t you know never happened don’t need no salmon in Covelo no the tribes don’t need to eat yes the evil grape Growers do know this

  • Hey Joe you might be right they been messing with my water for a long time now maybe they need to see who’s in control or not what they thinking they can buy control I haven’t been paid off in a long time maybe some of them have been getting on their knees in church but that’s not how we do it anymore and no burning babies stupid

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