Guest Blog: May the Folk be With You
By Sally MacDonald, dispatch volunteer for campground safety
I had first heard about the Winnipeg Folk Fest the year I turned 18. It sounded unbelievable that such a festival existed so close to home. My friend and I went that summer, had an amazing adventure and the rest is history.
Fast forward to the present day 16 years later (yikes...) and I have only missed Folk Fest one year since. About 10 years of going to the festival as a patron (minus one year where I was lucky enough to have a kin pass) I became aware of a lot of friends and acquaintances who were volunteering for the festival. Some had volunteered for years and others were just starting. I initially thought that maybe it would be a great way to experience the festival and – to be perfectly honest – a free festival pass and food for the weekend for this budget conscious late 20-something was a very appealing proposition.
I had a friend on one of the festival safety crews who suggested I apply for a dispatch position with the crew, as this is apparently a hard position to fill, which I still don’t understand. You’re in a trailer away from the sometimes-harsh elements and mosquitos. Plus, there is always coffee flowing.
When I signed up to volunteer, I was looking forward to being a part of the festival. But what surprised me most was discovering just how dedicated the community of volunteers were – always looking to make the festival a good experience, not only for the patrons, but also for fellow volunteers.
My first dispatch shift was an overnight-to-morning shift right as the gates opened. It was an eye-opening experience to see how much is involved in organizing this one aspect of the festival. Somehow amongst the chaos it all came together and without the particular sense of pride and community within our crew, it could have been a less than enjoyable experience.
Every year, I find out something new about someone going above and beyond their volunteer job to make it fun for everyone. Whether it’s a surprise meal before La Cuisine opens, new fancy Christmas lights in the trailer or, of course, superhero Sunday.
It’s been a blast these past five years and I’m looking forward to the next years to come.
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