Volunteers keep festivals moving - Metro US

Volunteers keep festivals moving

With festival season underway in Ottawa, thousands of volunteers will be logging hours to make sure these events run smoothly.

“Volunteers make festivals what they are,” said Catriona Leger with the Ottawa Fringe Festival, which runs June 17 to 27. “They are the backbone of the festivals. We couldn’t do festivals without volunteers.”

This year, the Fringe needs over 600 volunteers to man over 380 performances at 16 venues, the Fringe Courtyard and the volunteer headquarters.

Whatever your talents or interests, there’s a festival and a position to suit you.

Ottawa Race Weekend is only a little over a week away, but organizers are still looking for volunteers to man water stations for the marathon and half marathon on May 30, as well as to staff the recovery area.

It takes between 1,800 and 2,000 people to run the two-day event, which is expecting more than 30,000 runners.

“I think it’s pretty rewarding,” said Joe Du Vall, assistant to the general manager of Ottawa Race Weekend. “A lot of runners thank the volunteers.” Volunteers can register at runottawa.ca.

And while festivals need volunteers, there’s often something in it for the volunteers as well.

The Ottawa Fringe Festival gives volunteers free shirts and one free pass for a show for each shift they work, as well as holding an appreciation party at the end of the festival.

“We do everything we can at the Fringe to make sure volunteers have an excellent time,” Leger said.

Volunteering offers team-building opportunities, said volunteer co-ordinator for the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival Jessica Main. “And it’s a great way to meet new friends, you get to be outside all day long and enjoy free music. It’s just a fun event.”

With more than 300 volunteers so far, the festival, held June 18-20 at Mooney’s Bay, still needs more volunteers, Main said.

While most festivals are still looking for volunteers, one festival’s sign-up list is already full.

All volunteer positions have now been filled for Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, held July 6 to 18.

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