Guest Blog: Volunteering for Folk Fest is a Home Run!
By: Mel Marginet
Growing up, I never experienced the Winnipeg Folk Fest. The summer pilgrimage to share a day or weekend with family and friends, playing in the Family Area, falling asleep under the stars with music playing on the Main Stage – I have many friends who tell these stories, but this was not my experience as a child.
I grew up in rural Manitoba and was a competitive fastball player. I have similar tales of long afternoons in the sun, but they usually involved being covered in ball diamond dust and sweat, long road trips to other provinces and into the states, provincial championships and national tournaments.
When I graduated high school, I began an Arts degree at the University of Winnipeg, soon falling into the Theatre and Film program. Friends I made told tales of camping out at the festival, and I was intrigued. My first festival experience was on a Saturday day pass in 2012. I attended under the guise of also running lines for a show I was in, called Lungs by Duncan Macmillan. We were taking a break in our rehearsal schedule that week, as our director had to go out of town, and the show’s assistant director and my fellow cast member headed to the festival. Lungs was a 90 minute two-hander, so to say we could use a few line runs was an understatement! We agreed to meet at the festival at noon, and we’d give an hour or so to working on the script, then the three of us and other friends would enjoy the day.
By about 2:00 PM, I was completely hooked! What a great atmosphere! I love music and being outdoors, so the festival is basically my idea of perfection. I’m sure many of my fellow “late bloomers” to the festival share this experience. There is no going back!
Now, being an artist and running an independent theatre company, my bank account can’t necessarily afford a festival pass and camping, so I signed up to be a volunteer. Did you know that the food they feed the volunteers is amazing? The folks in La Cuisine are fantastic! Plus, the festival treats its volunteers with such consideration and care. I arrived at the festival confident, feeling like I was a valuable team member.
I have now joined a new volunteer team, giving time throughout the year in the Folk Fest office, working with the marketing department. You’ve probably read a few of my blogs! As an artist, I juggle several part-time jobs and contracts during the year, but also have time in my schedule for impactful volunteer experiences. When I saw the posting for this new crew, I thought it would be an excellent experience and that I should apply. I am so glad I did.
To me, Folk Fest is like summer camp for adults. I love pitching a tent in the campground with my friends to create a home base. I love discovering new music at the festival, while also cheering on our great local bands who have secured a place in the program.
I think what makes the festival such a success is that it creates a team atmosphere, with all of the crews, staff, bands and audience members united to create an idyllic experience. I may not be rounding bases and calling plays anymore, but I still feel like I hit a home run each summer.
Friend Amanda and Mel heading out to Folk Fest!
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