It was my birthday, February 11. Dave Humphreys dropped me off at the Downers Grove Metra station to make my way back to union station and then home to Cleveland.

We had spent the past 3 days planning the next conference in Grand Rapids and exploring potential future conference sites. The visit was a success. Our board and conference director, Annie Capps was ready to begin work on the 2020 FARM conference.

A month later we found ourselves reconsidering everything.

Would we be able to have a conference? Would the pandemic be over by October? There were a lot of questions and concerns. FAI canceled 2021 and the regions soon followed. We held out the longest, but ultimately made the decision to postpone our final year in Michigan. We were fortunate to be able to rework all of our agreements with the hotels.

With the reality that there would be no in person conference, we moved forward to create FARM Virtual Connections. We found a formula that felt good and we realized an opportunity to keep our community connected throughout the year while providing valuable information, as musicians and venues faced a paradigm shift unlike anything ever experienced in our industry.

The VC component of FARM allowed us to present a virtual conference from October 19 – 25 that included private showcases, wisdom of the elders, an address by Aengus Finnan, performance lane, late night song circles, our annual General meeting, and a Keynote with John McCutcheon.

It was magical and left me feeling like we accomplished something special. I do hope we never have to move the conference to an entirely virtual format again, but I do think we will adopt many of these activities in the future to remain engaged year round. 

Your 2020 FARM Board of Directors

From Top Left: Charlie Mosbrook, Stephanie Cofell, Cindy Morgan, Robert Jones, Brianna Lane, Joanne Smiddie-Brush, Karen Rigoti, Nicholas James Thomasma, Randy Styka

  The board has only one outgoing member. Our president of the past 3 years Smitty (Dudley) Smith. His calm and consistent leadership has been invaluable during this unique time. We are deeply grateful for all he has done and hope to keep him involved as an important and active part of our organization. I will continue to turn to him for guidance.

The Farm board welcomes our newest director, Robert Jones. Known to our membership for one of the most memorable conference Keynotes in 2018, Robert is an extraordinary entertainer and educator. We look forward to his wisdom, knowledge, and rich perspective. Our entire board welcomes Robert. We know we are very lucky to have him as a member.

Our executive committee has two new members, Cindy Morgan who will serve as secretary and Stephanie Cofell who will serve as vice president. I (Charlie Mosbrook) will take over the duties of president, having served as VP to Smitty. Lola Tyler will continue as treasurer.

I would also like to voice our deep gratitude to Brianna Lane who has served as secretary for the past three years. Brianna played a key role in establishing a cloud based filing system that has proven invaluable during the past year. Her work with virtual connections, knowledge, energy, and spirit have been essential in our ability to make our web based ambitions a reality. Brianna remains an important member of our board. I enjoy working with her.

FARM board of directors continuing to serve include Karen Rigotti, Nicholas James Thomasma, Randy Styka, and Joanne Smiddie-Brush.

Our board is an amazing collection of people with a strong passion and love for our community and mission. We look forward to returning to an in person 2021 event in Grand Rapids. What that will look like is still not clear. We are committed to providing a memorable and safe FARM experience for everyone in attendance.

On behalf of every member of the FARM board of directors I want to thank everyone for being a part of our virtual conference and our events throughout the year. It wasn’t the conference I was imagining as I made my way home in February, but I believe we have grown as an organization during these trying times.

I want to extend an enormous thank you to Annie Capps who didn’t blink as we transitioned from in-person to virtual. She made this happen. It is hard to describe what I witnessed in Annie and her resilience through this time. Annie Capps is everything you want in a leader during a crisis. She adapted and did everything needed to navigate this crazy time. I will always treasure this time for having worked so closely with her. I am a better person for it.

I also want to thank our board of directors, FAI and everyone who participated in making this alternative version of FARM a meaningful and memorable event.

Thank you all. We can’t wait to see you in Grand Rapids!

Maybe our badges will be face masks instead of lanyards.

– Charlie Mosbrook, President

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