Everyone in the area probably knows Cyndi Mudge, or at least one of her projects. Farmers, craftsmen, volunteers and shoppers alike are affected by this hardworking industrious woman’s daily endeavors.
She may be best known for her job as the Astoria Sunday Market’s executive director. She took over running and organizing the weekly wonder when Joyce Compere stepped down in 2008. Over the course of their reign, the market has blossomed from one block to three blocks on 12th street, a parking lot and a food vendor area. “We’ve gotten better and are attracting better and better vendors,” Cyndi says. “We’ve developed a good reputation.”
She reports that the products being sold are sophisticated and there is more diversity in the produce offered by their farmer vendors. The market was young when she first moved here in 2003 and she has seen it grow along with Astoria, “It has been fun watching the town evolve and mature to being a place where people come to spend time.”
Cyndi spends the week organizing the vendors, from the cheesemonger and farmer to the jewelers and florists. Over 200 applicants register for each market, but the market only holds around 150 booths. In addition, only two-thirds of the booths are up for grabs each week, as the others are regulars who span the season from May to October. The size of the market puts it on par with big cities like Portland and Hillsboro, but that’s not the only thing that makes it special. “It is in an absolutely stunning location,” Cyndi brags. Plus the variety of food, art, clothing and crafts make it a market that appeals to locals and tourists. It fits the definition of a farmer’s market, but is also, what Cyndi refers to as a “Maker’s Market” due to the large number of artisan vendors. But what’s the most popular? Cyndi says kettle corn is a clear winner. It’s comforting and iconic of markets and events. Even if shoppers don’t buy it, they’re happy to see its there.
Cyndi Mudge can also be found over at the Port of Astoria. This is her second season as the volunteer coordinator for Clatsop Cruise Hosts, though she has been working with the group since 2008. The Sunday market provides vendors for the cruise ships as a welcome to the passengers. Guests offload from the boats and are greeted by more than twenty area vendors along with an information booth and bus ticket sales. Cyndi now sets up the cruise market and hosts around the city to guide passengers on their daily excursions. “Passengers know to look for the blue jackets,” Cyndi explains. Placed strategically around town at places like the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the Liberty Theatre, cruise hosts give directions and recommendations. She has between 50-70 volunteers on call and is always in need of more. The number of ships stopping in Astoria has grown, so the number of hospitable hosts has to grow too. Interested parties can fill out an application to start in the coming season.
On top of these positions, Cyndi has her hand in many other events and projects in the area. She has been coordinating the Seaside Artisan Fair for four years, she helped the Scandinavian Heritage Park board develop a marketing plan, she is currently working with the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association on a parking study and she does freelance writing work. Cyndi claims it’s pandemonium at the beginning of the summer season, but she has a system and a rhythm that allows it to settle down. And, most importantly, she enjoys her work.
She has even raised one project from the dead to add to her workload. Haunted Astoria started in 2008 as a collaboration between the Clatsop County Historical Society, the Astoria Chamber of Commerce, the Liberty Theater and the Astoria Sunday Market. Cyndi loved the events including ghost hunters, a Mystic Fair, a scary movie at the Liberty and best of all, a short story contest. The event only ran for three years, but ever since its inception Cyndi has been receiving entries for the contest in her inbox. This year she decided to bring it back. She saved up prize money and coerced three area writing experts Mac Burns, Ryan Hume and Dinah Urell to judge the competition. With over 30 entries from all over the Pacific Northwest, like everything else Cyndi touches, its a born again success.
Although the Sunday market has passed for the year and cruise ship season is winding down, Cyndi will be out in Clatsop County working hard to make our community an entertaining positive place to live. Visit her at www.cyndimudge.com to read about her latest projects.