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Morgan Allen has been Executive Director of euphoria for a little more than four years. For half that time, she and her staff at Greenville’s annual food, wine, and music festival have had to constantly adapt and pivot and generally figure out how to operate under pandemic conditions.

All that adapting has kept the festival going and growing, and has helped it thrive and expand its impact, giving back more to the community than ever before.

Allen and euphoria have been instrumental in Connect for Good GVL, which not only helped sustain Greenville’s restaurants during the height of the pandemic, but has provided more than 130,000 meals to people in the community.

The festival, founded in 2006, runs from Sept. 15-18 this year. It features exclusive tastings, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, multi-course dinners, appearances from regionally and nationally acclaimed chefs and sommeliers, and live musical performances.

Allen joined euphoria in 2016 as event director of food and beverage and was named Executive Director in 2018. Under her leadership, euphoria received the 2022 Governor’s Cup Award, South Carolina’s highest honor in the tourism industry. The award recognized the festival for its impact on Greenville’s hospitality and tourism industries, economic development, and quality of life.

Allen was also named South Carolina’s honoree for USA Today’s Women of the Year, a recognition that honors strong and resilient women across the country who are champions of change.

A native of Brunswick, Ga., Allen graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in marketing. She began her career as a marketing and bar manager on Saint Simons Island in Georgia and has held various leadership positions, ranging from community outreach to marketing and restaurant management.

Before moving to the Upstate, Allen served as food and beverage manager at the Mahogany Run golf resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She and her family currently live in Anderson.

Talk Greenville: To you, what’s the most important thing about euphoria? 

Morgan Allen: Definitely the impact we have on the community. From Day One, our mission has been to shine a spotlight on Greenville’s hospitality industry, make a strong economic impact, and support other Upstate nonprofits through our grant program. Even through the pandemic, we’ve never once wavered on our promise to give back, and this year we were able to give more grant money than we ever have before. That’s something we’re really proud of.

TG: How has euphoria changed in the six years you’ve been a part of it? 

MA: No two years have been the same, even before the pandemic. Things constantly change in this industry, from our own staff, to new restaurants opening and others closing, and even just the landscape of downtown Greenville. We’re always trying to come up with new ideas and differentiate ourselves from other festivals, while still staying true to our brand and never losing sight of our mission. We’ve grown a lot in the past six years, adding more events throughout the year and during the festival weekend, bringing in more Michelin-starred chefs, and highlighting more local ingredients grown and sourced right here in South Carolina. But that growth has been very intentional so we could maintain the intimate feel people have always loved about euphoria.

TG: What is the main takeaway from the pandemic and its effect on euphoria and events like it? 

MA: The main takeaway for us is just how close-knit and connected our hospitality industry is, how strong our relationships are, and how much we all need each other. We had chefs, restaurant owners, and musicians reaching out in 2020 begging us to move forward with the festival in some capacity. It was humbling to know how much they all looked forward to euphoria, and how it was a lifeline of sorts during a really tough time. That made us more determined than ever to find a safe way to keep the festival going. And now that we’re finally able to host our full slate of events again, we can see that it was well worth it.