Pati Crooker Mulligan, who ran the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival in Brunswick, ME for nearly 30 years, passed away over the weekend. She was 68 years of age when she died on June 12.
Pati and her family were hosts to many thousands of bluegrass fans at their campground over the years. The festival was retired in 2008, which Pati counted as its 30th year. She actually started in 1979, but didn’t count the unlucky 13th year, skipping right to 14 in her official reckoning. They had intended to stop after 25, but fans came to the park anyway the next year and played bluegrass, so the family started it back up and ran it again for five more years.
Pati, born Patricia May Crooker on February 24, 1948, was the face of the festival, always visible at the beach resort during the season. The Thomas Point Beach property had been developed by her parents, Harry and Marion Crooker, and she took over management in 1972, and assumed ownership in 1993. She brought in a number of other cultural events such as the Maine Highland Games, the Maine Festival, The Portland Symphony Orchestra, and the Saltwater Music Festival.
Her festival was an important factor in introducing quality bluegrass music to a new generation of fans in New England. Legends like Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, and Del McCoury were regular performers, as were regional favorites like Don Stover and The Lilly Brothers.
Attendees at the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass convention had seen Pati year after year at the annual event, particularly when Thomas Point Beach was awarded Bluegrass Event of the Year in 2008, and when Pati herself was given a Distinguished Achievement Award in 2009. Boston Bluegrass Union also honored her in 2012 with its Heritage Award.
Funeral services will be held privately for the family this week, but they will receive friends on Wednesday, June 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and from 6:00-8:00 p.m at Brackett Funeral Home in Brunswick. Remembrances can be left at the funeral home web site.
A celebration of Pati’s life will be held on September 3 at Thomas Point Beach starting at 1:00 p.m. All are invited.