Welcome to the Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival! Featured here is the Dream Team – the behind the scenes talent that recruits, trains, schemes and implements the most creative festival in the city. These veterans and current leaders are dedicated to raising the bar year after year. We are deeply grateful for their contributions of style, skill and humor.
Susan Sassmann – Head Faerie
Susan has always had a flair for communal gatherings paired with creative presentation. The Solstice has allowed her to build a tribe of like-minded people who share their talents and celebrate life on a regular basis. She knows how to surround herself with people who can “make it happen.” Her life journey moves through a timid childhood to a rebellious college student, a strident feminist, a serial entrepreneur, devoted wife & mother — and landing in the world of the Faerie Goddesses. Susan is passionate about living her life out loud, spreading joy and building a better world. Words to live by — “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.” & “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ghandi
Ling Sue Withers – Vendor Faerie & Hand of the Head Faerie
A great fan of festivals of all types, Ling Sue was drawn as an attendee to the Summer Solstice Festival for many years before joining the team. Using imagination and resourcefulness to create and share celebrations is her passion. Community-minded & fun-loving, years of planning private parties, community events & festivals has only fueled her love for organizing. She enjoys working behind the scenes with vendors, artists & performers. She looks forward to a fantastic celebration of the Summer Solstice Festival. “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
Kris Ferris – Captain of All Talent
Kris Ferris is a veteran singer/song writer with a career that has spanned over 40 years in many states throughout the southeastern US and continues today in notable venues in and around the Greensboro area. His love of music and spirit of giving back to the community led him to become part of the Solstice “family,” providing sound equipment and technician services not long after its inception. He is also currently growing his own event production business known as the Collabative. He sums his involvement this way… “I am proud to be connected with the Summer Solstice celebration and honored to work side-by-side with so many talented and dedicated people, from the artists and volunteers to the production committee. What’s not to like about being part of the best party in town?”
Jim Sassmann – Master Wizard of Faerie Logistics
Married to the Head Faerie for 40 years come this Solstice, Jim had no option but to join the ranks of the Solstice organizers. His attention to detail and his high level of integrity is often called upon for guidance. Jim loves to negotiate, plan and execute well laid plans and goes to great lengths to ensure that the Solstice logistics comes off smoothly year after year. His technology background and business savvy has helped move the event to new levels of success. When Jim is not pouring over Solstice details, he is on the golf course, in the pool hall, or doing projects around the homestead. He is the Wingman for the Head Faerie and the Go-To guy for everything that does not glitter.
Drea Parker – Faerie World Engineer
Drea has been a participant of the Solstice for the last 9 years, either as a newbie fairy-in awe of such splendor, and all the glitter, or as a parking assistant-extraordinaire, or even as a vendor, offering reiki, integrative reflexology (cold foot rubs on an otherwise hot day). But mostly, she has been an enthralled advocate of the Summer Solstice since the first day she stepped foot on the magickal grounds of the Greensboro Arboretum. She works for Shepherd’s Center of Winston-Salem for her day job, and moonlights as Chair of Interfaith Winston-Salem during the times of dewy-mist. This year, she will weave our dream world into reality the day of the festival. 🙂 “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~ Buddha
Mike Gyurica – King of Faerie Central
Upon his arrival in the Triad 10 years ago, the Summer Solstice Celebration was one of the first events Michael attended. As soon as he stepped foot into Lindley Park he knew he had found his tribe. He has been a regular ever since. Michael decided to become a part of the magic when simply attending just wasn’t enough. Over the last few years as a volunteer he pitched in where he could. While it was his Earth based nature as a Shamanic Lightworker that drew him to the Solstice Celebration to begin with, it was his experience as a project manager that helped him identify the need for his skills at Faerie Central. Michael was also drawn by the community spirit that permeates the Solstice Celebration. It is the same energy that inspires him to facilitate the New Moon/ Full Moon Drum Circles and Spiritual Talking Circles at Ohana Arts & Healing along with the First Friday Drum Circle at Center City Park in downtown Greensboro.
Daniel Bayer – Tech Wizard of the Serenity Garden
I’m a journalist, photographer, sound engineer and musician living in Greensboro. I’ve done sound at the Blind Tiger, Guilford College, Greensboro Recording Collective, Flatiron, Green Bean, Fireflies Festival, Heavy Rebel Weekender, Dotmatrix Project, Summer Solstice and Elvisfest. My singing and bass playing can be heard on the Raving Knave’s 2011 CD “Love in the Atom Age” and Boxcar Bertha’s 2005 CD “Guilty County Stomp.” I’ve also played with Empire for Rent, Sugercoma, and D.B. Cooper and the Hijackers. I’m currently playing bass in the Grand Ole Uproar.
Bill Donnell – Faerie World Engineer
Bill Donnell, a Summerfield resident & owner of Summerfield Sound, loves to play music with like-minded friends. He is also president of “Friends at the Beach” concierge services, which assists people vacationing on Oak Island to find what they need. He is retired from a long career with local government of Guilford County and is now involved with many fun entrepreneurial endeavors with friends.
John Paul McNeil – Serenity Garden Stage Manager
John Paul has been playing guitar since high school. Then bass, banjo, mandolin, percussion. So many instruments, so ADD. He loves to play, sing, and write with other muse-icians. He is a confessed Creataholic. For about 20 years JP has been hearing voices in his head. They sing and play original songs. So he learned how to record them, and record others who hear such stuff in their heads, at his Steampowered Studio. Steam was a great sound effect on train songs, not so good on others. The studio now runs on electricity. Doing live sound for the Butterfly Stage at Summer Solstice the past few years gave him the idea of Butterfly Power. Very quiet, but the lovely things keep morphing. He often ponders this as he runs sound while playing his conga, thanking Sue Sassmann for the opportunity to do so.
Stuart Stanley – Captain of Stage Lindley
Stuart V. Stanley is a local musician, Thespian and enthusiastic kilted weirdo who is proud to be a part of Summer solstice for another great year! Stuart has both performed and stage managed for several years now. Stuart lives in Morrisville NC with his beautiful wife Bonnie and works full time as an Apartment maintenance supervisor and also does handyman work on the side.
Boomer Sassmann – Web Wizard
He is a blend of his parents — a super creative techie who takes life as it comes & sails through with an easy going disposition. Boomer is the first contact with the public on Solstice Day — guiding the 100+ vendors to their destination, then filling in wherever needed throughout the day. A graduate of Appalachian State University, with a degree in Industrial Design, Boomer is in his 12th year of running Big Boom Design and loving every minute of it. On the weekends you can find him tinkering on some type of automotive project or enjoying the beautiful view of the mountains at his home in Asheville, NC. He loves to talk about the internet and always welcomes the chance to brainstorm over a local Asheville brew or tasty cup of coffee.
Living Brush – Scott Fray & Madelyn Greco
Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco are a pair of US bodypainting artists, the first and only to have won five World Championship titles. The couple has appeared on air to detail their art and lives for NPR, on several shows. They have been showcased in print media or online by CNN, MSN, YahooNews, InternationalBusinessTimes.com, SportsIllustrated.com and FOX-8 NC. Fine art representation of LivingBrush’s work has been featured prominently in several internationally-published books on the subject. Scott and Madelyn’s work has gained notoriety via a variety of global trade publications, as well as numerous regional publications.
Sandy Blocker – Drum Circle Leader
Sandy Blocker is the University Accompanist at Elon University who plays world percussion instruments for modern, ballet and African dance classes. His professional training in ballet when he was younger makes him very in tune, and an ideal accompanist for the dance students and professors within the dance department.
Scott Hinzman – Fire Co-Captain
Scott Hinzman began his study of flow in early 2000. Upon discovering a passion for fire, flow, and circus arts, he tirelessly trains and explores techniques and movement to further his means to express himself as an artist. He has been practicing the arts of poi, contact staff, double staff, fire eating, buugeng (s-staff), contact juggling, and acro yoga. Scott specializes in designing custom performances with both fire and LED props. He has performed at many events around NC, including the annual Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival and many others. He has taught several workshops and is currently teaching regular workshops that cater to variable levels of skill at Studio Eleve’.
Sydney Vigotov – Fire Co-Captain
At the Solstice, we know Sydney Vigotov as an amazing fire artist, but her talents range far beyond what we see at the Solstice! She is a multi-hyphenate artist: she excels in WAY more than one craft/occupation! She works professionally in film, choreography, bodypainting,, and the circus arts.. Many local companies, large & small, have commissioned her talents. Numerous articles written about her work, including Yes! Weekly. Her completed projects range from event design to comedy skits to choreography. She lives & works happily on 10 acres of wild North Carolina woods.
Kathy Rooney – Faerie Major of Parasol Parade
Major Sponsor, African Dancer, Trash Czar, Drum Coordinator, tuna salad maker — Kathy Rooney is one of those New Orleans gals who knows how to throw and enjoy a great party. She created and has managed her business, Rolfing® Associates of the Triad, for over 25 years and continues to throw herself into her passions. We are fortunate to have Kathy in our corner — multi-talented, fearless and super capable.
Stephanie Coolbaugh – Faerie Intern
Stephanie Coolbaugh is a student, musician, and Faerie Intern with the Summer Solstice this summer. Currently working towards her Music and Arts Administration degrees at UNCG, Stephanie’s passion lies not only in creating her own art but in supporting her fellow local artists. Her work as Artist Liaison with Sofar Sounds Greensboro has only strengthened this value and brought her a deeper respect of what it means to help curate arts events in the community. What she loves most about working for festivals is that the hard work pays off with the creation a positive, arts-centered experience for the whole community to enjoy, which are the kind of events that she has always cherished growing up. She can’t wait to spend the longest day of the year celebrating the joys this community has to offer with creative spirits and new friends!
Lynn Witherspoon – Wayfinding Woodspryte
Greensboro native Lynn Witherspoon has attended Summer Solstice since year 1, and began volunteering for setup and clean up in 2015. She is currently (literally) updating the Solstice website, and is in charge of sign installation for this magical event. If you can’t find your way around the festival – you now know who to blame! In addition to Summer Solstice, Lynn is heavily involved with the NC Folk Festival. She worked with the National Folk Festival Operations crew in 2016 and 17, then was asked to be Director of Operations for NCFF beginning in its 2018 inaugural year. She considers herself very fortunate to work with crews of extraordinarily talented people on these two vibrant, beloved festivals.
Maria Harkins – Founding Faerie
One of the “Founding Faeries” who helped build the foundation of the Solstice Celebration. Since 2005, she has worked all over the board, behind the scenes and in front of the crowd — decorating, organizing and managing the plethora of details that come flying at Faerie Central. This faerie goddess has always been loyal to the cause and continues to bring beauty and magic to the Solstice.
Kenny Shulman – Grand Dame
She has the financial smarts, strong work ethic and the class to hold the title of Grand Dame. In the early years, Kenny worked hard behind the scenes to bring organization to the festival, handling copious numbers of vendors & details , streamlining processes & staying on top of the loosely constructed Solstice plan. It is because of people like Kenny that chaos became more orderly and reason was brought to bear. She would not refer to herself as a Faerie Goddess. And that’s because she is the one and only Grand Dame.