It’s been a busy couple of years for Morgan Allen.
As executive director of euphoria, the four-day food, wine and music festival held each fall in Greenville, Allen has found herself in a near-constant limbo. Since the pandemic, she and her small team have been pivoting constantly, learning how to adapt a festival whose very makeup – large crowds, dozens of individual events and no small number of close-knit dinners – is at odds with COVID-related health and safety measures.
“But when you’re in the hospitality industry, I think you’re naturally a person who can quickly adapt,” Allen said. “We’ve just never been tested quite like we were the last couple of years.”
Now Allen is finding a renewed sense of stability as pandemic concerns wane and new events are being held, including the most recent Southern Remedy night, held on Feb. 24, which showcased chef-prepared dishes from euphoria’s first cookbook, “A Taste of euphoria.”
And there’s one more factor that is buoying the spirits of Allen’s team: a major award.
On Feb. 9, euphoria was awarded the Governor’s Cup by Gov. Henry McMaster at the 57th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel, the highest tourism-related honor in the state.
“Candidly, in years past I might not have even taken the time to apply, because there are so many other attractions or festivals or events in the state that are so much larger than us,” Allen said. “But just how hard we worked the last two years, I thought why not just apply. To win is a true testament that we must be doing something right.”
Get to know Morgan Allen
She joined euphoria in 2016 – on a whim
“I saw the position open online for euphoria and interviewed for event director of food and beverage and got the job. I knew nothing about Greenville, nothing about euphoria, and I had less than three months until the festival, so there was definitely a huge learning curve.”
Previously worked as food and beverage director at a golf course in the Virgin Islands
“My husband lived down there in the Virgin Islands, and he talked me into moving down there with him. It wasn’t too difficult of a sales pitch, to be honest: 80-degree weather year-round, crystal-clear blue waters. A great place to live when you’re younger, but we moved here when we wanted to start a family.”
Allen dealt with the stress of the pandemic while raising a toddler
“She’s four years old now, and the great thing about this job is there’s a lot of flexibility, so I can do a lot of my work at night. The hardest part, though, is figuring out a work-life balance, even pre-pandemic. It’s very easy to say, ‘Oh, my computer’s upstairs, I’ll knock out one more thing before bed’ — and then five hours later I’m still on the computer.”
What people don’t realize about her work
“People don’t realize that we work year-round, full-time. As soon as the festival’s over, sure we might take three days to sleep, but when we’re right back at it. And we do events all year long.”
Her favorite part about Greenville
“I hear this from so many people who visit, when chefs or friends come to town, which is how we really have a true ‘farm to fork’ culture in Greenville. There are so many local farms, some of the best produce that South Carolina has to offer is in the Upstate, and you see more and more chefs taking that and making some wonderful creations. I love the artistry behind the food here.”