Board Elections

Meet the newly elected board members

Robin Lee Berry

I first performed at the Blissfest in 1982 in a duo called Krista-fer-Robin and was fortunate to be invited back, LOL, several times to camp, perform, teach, make coffee, go thru the buffet line, make friends, stand in the rain for hours to talk to Richie Havens who was also standing in the rain for hours to graciously thank the guy in front of me, me and the guy behind me, etc., for listening… gathering all sorts of great memories. Being a performing musician for several decades I’ve also created several recordings who are out there in the cloud and also on CD if you find me in person or at the gallery. I recently scored an indi-documentary film about Ernest Hemingway created by George Colburn. The film is beautiful and enlightening. I helped create and taught ukulele for Blissfest “Ukes For Youth”, taught strings for Crooked Tree for 8 years and taught Ukes to adults during several Bliss festivals. Rock Stars all of them!! Currently I offer private lessons for violin, guitar and ukulele in our gallery. I make the posters for concerts at Freshwater. Did I mention my husband and I have owned Freshwater Art Gallery & Concert Venue for 13 years which is host to 125 Michigan based artists. We also created a concert series that has presented international touring musicians to our intimate audience. We strive for impecable sound, a magical evening offering dedicated space to reunite. I was involved in creating the SOBO arts festival which ran 3 years and featured all forms of art including music and healing arts. I have served on the Blissfest Board of Directors twice in the past (two terms each) and currenty fulfilled a term with desire to fill one more term.

I believe this time in Bliss history requires deep consideration to guide it the next 40 years of Bliss. I sincerely appreciate the current members of the board and recognize their deep devotion and sincerly good intentions backed with strong loving values. It has been an honor to work with these amazing humans and it has fortified my love for the festival and the outreach of this organization. I love colaboration and sharing in the mutual goal of fortifying an amazing vision that has touched so many people over the years.

In the past I would say Ukes For Youth. I was there at it’s inception. Long story. Ask me. But today I think today it’s willingness to show up and do the hard work. My most valuable contribution is in my devotion to the thousands of people oer the years who brought it to life again and again. I feel the stream of their energy and their joy, their sweat, their grit, their tears really! and I want to bring voice to that stream. I fell in love with alot of folks this year~ I am so grateful for their willingness. To show up, to do the hard thankless work—well ok—I will say it now. thank you. May your efforts be recognized. May we make it more fun. P.S. Brainstorming with several of the staff and board members of Blissfest a few years ago we created a video to honor our volunteers and called “The 12 Days of Blissmas”. You will find it archived somewhere on the Blissfest site and it is sooo fun! If you can’t find it contact me!

Rebuilding our core. Reviewing, repairing, revisioning. Implementing. We have entered into a new musical world and our challenge is to diversifying enough to retain and grow our audience by providing activities and musical presentations for all ages in our community. With 2 quiet years and one festival “Post-C” now under our belt we have the opportunity to improve on the myriad details of presenting a festival. We have the opportunity to honor all those hard working souls who helped build this festival in carrying the torch forward for future generations by creating a inclusive, thoughtful, focused plan with committed awareness of the long range responsibility.

Boyne City Main Street, Board Member 

SOBO Arts Festival, Director 

Other: National Mushroom Festival Boyne City volunteer Historical Boyne City power point presentation with Ed May

Boyne Mainstreet is a part of a national organization that helps downtowns maximize their assets while visioning the space they have for best use by the pubic, upgrading the infrastructure, creating a sense of place, educate community and passers thru and re-connect the community to their downtown. It was really enjoyable to be a part of that process, the good old master plan and the stratec plan to implement. Super fun, rewarding, confounding, team building, did I say rewarding? Boyne City Mainstreet won the National Mainstreet Award two years ago. It was fun to be a part of all of that. Brainstorming, combining ideas, talking thru feasibility—discussion. Really loved the reasonability…

I understand the necessity of fundraising and also of reaching out. I agree with the statement to “give at a level you are comfortable with”.

Terry davis

Attorney in Michigan and Ohio with a home in the Petoskey area. Been coming to Bliss with my family for about 20 years. I’ve served on several charitable boards over the years (8 years on a large YMCA board being the last such experience) and have been a volunteer in the Toledo area legal community my entire career. I am about to retire to northern Michigan and have been looking for a group where I can meaningfully contribute. I’ve served on the Blissfest Board for the past two years and am seeking re-election to continue to help this wonderful organization navigate the post-Covid world.

Law firm experience and long time live music aficianado.

Challenges. Overcoming the problems associated with the pandemic including, but not limited to, the ability to hire great artists for shows and getting patrons comfortable with attending live shows. Opportunities. The campground. Putting on more shows during the year.

YMCA, Board Member

Blissfest, Board Member 

Toledo Felon Re-entry program, Attorney

Toledo Mediation program, Attorney

Over my 30 year legal career I’ve done a significant amount of pro bono/volunteer work in the community. Acting as an attorney both advocating for indigent clients seeking a re-entry into the work force following stints in prison or rehab. I also acted as a mediator with small disputes to try and resolve issues between neighbors/family members to keep them from turning into lawsuits. The former I’ve been doing for 6 or 7 years. The latter for a 10 year time period.

Michael Kazanowski

I am the current CEO of a distillery, my main job focuses on driving sales, marketing, and overseeing my team. I have been a part of many events, some that include blissfest. I started a festival merchandise company that sponsored some of the biggest festivals in the world. 

Blissfest is what has shaped me to the person I am today. I spent years there with friends and family learning the bliss ways, learning about history, community values. and honoring tradition. From being a young teen to being 32 Bliss has been something that has bonded me with so many and memories that I will never forget.

Bliss is my family. The way it what started and the people who started I look up to, they inspire me. From Jim to Jerry to Sarah so many have supported me and helped me. I will never forget the day our tasting room was got shut down right after we opened. I was devastated and turned my favorite song on, It was the only thing that would make me feel alright, when i turned it on Jim was there to tell me my favorite musician Nahko was headlining. I started to cry bvz i felt like it was meant to me. Bliss is a family, When my mother died it was the hardest thing in my life. I have so many great memories and pictures of her from the festival, they are some of my favorites. Walking into her wake we saw a floral basket from Bliss Fest, my brother and I immediately noticed it. It was the only basket we took home that night and we still have the card. I think we kept it bcz just seeing the name Bliss Fest made us happy.

Biggest challenge is keeping the tradition and bliss vibes alive. The OGs know what they were doing and created a culture that needs to be respected and cherished. Dont let it change just because we lose more of the past every year. Financially things are tough and might just get tougher. Its time to bridge a gap with the county and work together. The festival does so much for so many, there are ways to make things work and continue to give back to the community. An opportunity is to carry on a tradition that has literally saved lives. A tradition that has touched so many. We can carry the tradition by still evolving and attracting new like minded people.

Blissfest, Main Gate Coordinator


Jeff Obeshaw

I have attended the Blissfest since 1988 and began volunteering in 1990 with Dave Trautman Sr. Also, serving on the Board of Directors for two terms and chairing the Marketing/Programming committee. Currently, I am working with the site team and pre fest set up and have been an active coordinator for 20+ years.

I have served in the past and feel my knowledge of the grounds, members, and mission will be valuable as the festival has returned and the transition is settling in. I am excited to serve and help the current leadership with my years of participation and experience.

Transition now that there is an active festival and accomplishing goals. Continuing traditions while introducing new and exciting programming and community outreach programs.

Recovery Notes, Board Member

BMO, Volunteer 

BMO, Board Member (2 Terms) 


Peter Starkel

I’ve been attending festivals for 30 years and I’ve been part of the non-commercial broadcast industry for 40 years. I’ve built entertainment venues professionally since 2003, and understand the business of events from several different aspects. I helped found Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse and was its first chairperson, I am currently the president of the board of Montessori Children’s House in Traverse City. I understand good governance on nonprofit boards. I’ve served on seven nonprofit boards over the years.

I think that this organization is very well run and the only way that that continues is to have quality individuals willing to serve. I believe that I have many valuable qualities in leadership of non-profit organizations the greatest being my respect for organizational mission vision and guiding principles. Blessfest has a very strong culture, and I’ve been impressed with the ongoing effort to improve the transaction experience with your members and festival attendees. I would love to bring insight that I have from developing entertainment venues, particularly the culture and operational systems. I have a lifelong relationship with live music, this year I’ll have attended over 40 days of live performance. By far blissfest is my bright spot every year.

I am very experienced in developing Grant strategy and operational systems for out of home entertainment. I’m currently building a 1700 seat amphitheater in Tennessee, this being my fifth project with live performance venues in the last decade. I consult organizations with marrying culture and operational performance which often are at odds with each other. I helped found an organization that had 1600 volunteers from 24 separate groups. I operated the largest volunteer homeless shelter in the state of Michigan with absolutely no government funding. This included constructing a 1.7 million shelter in downtown Traverse City. I understand the challenges of inspiring people to serve as volunteers. As the president of an independent Montessori School, I presided over the opening of the school’s second campus and implemented the schools dei program after leaving the board through an anti-racism anti-bias training program. My most valuable contribution would be my ability to work with a group to lead an organization.

I see succession planning being important. We have seen some of the long-term leaders move out of the spotlight at blissfest. Maintaining a culture and continuing the work as an organization can be challenging when your long-term leader is no longer there. I see an opportunity to improve communication with your attendees and members. You can be often hard to look at a sales pipeline from start to finish and make sure there is continuity throughout the process. I think this is a challenge at blissfest today and it creates an opportunity to streamline. I think you have one of the most engaged communities in festivals today. This creates an opportunity to lead in areas like sustainable vendor practices particularly in food service I see opportunities for attendees to take the spirit of Blissfest home with them. I think the music programming and implementation is brilliant.

  •  Safe Harbor of Grand   Traverse,  Founding Chairperson
  •  Montessori Children’s House of Traverse City, Board President
  • WNMC Radio, Founding morning show host
  • Fun Advisors, Principal / Brand Strategist
  • Street Advocate, Guardian of Homeless Individual


Safe Harbor overseas a homeless shelter with a capacity of 90 guests. At the time I was chairperson we had over 1,600 volunteers. Homelessness is an issue that is largely ignored and you have to seek out people who come with their own passion for the mission. I think taking care of your fellow person is any humans most important responsibility. Being the morning show host of WNMC gave me the music knowledge and the opportunity to meet many of the festival performers. I’ve watched organizations like Earthworks come into existence and thrive and I am excited about most of the national touring acts that you bring in as I’ve been playing their music on the station for over two decades. The station has over 70 volunteers and only one staff member. Being the leader of an independent school with 250 students has given me the opportunity to help the well-established organization plan for the future and overcome some very difficult cultural challenges. Trying to create a diverse School in a community that lacks much diversity created a huge opportunity that we are continuing to improve.

I co-led a 1.7 million fundraising effort to construct a homeless shelter. I let a board that raised 1.9 million for a new downtown campus for my school. I have participated with more on air pledges drives then I can remember since 1982.