Volunteer for fun

Catch up and chill out.

By Tania Phillips

As a not for profit community arts event Woodford Folk Festival, held between Christmas and New Year at Woodford each year, is only as good as it’s volunteers.

And according to event media manager Annah Evington they are pretty damn good.

“We’re a not for profit community arts organization we have a pretty small team of staff that work throughout the year to get the festival going but also to run other events and help keep our Woodfordia land project going,” she said.

“We really have a lot of support from volunteers, people who come in to help with our front of house and do a day or two-three days on our front of house reception to people who come out and volunteer as our tree-huggers team who helping with site maintenance, our Woodford warriors who are also a maintenance team more focused on infrastructure maintenance. Tree huggers do the trees and mulching and planting.

“We have a monthly gathering on the land at Woodfordia which is an invitation for people to come out and take part in numerous groups, the orchid lovers, the butterfly lovers, frog lovers. This is all part of a project called the conservatory which is something we’re growing into a regular monthly gathering to help us get this beautiful 500-acre property really looking like an amazing parkland.

“It’s 500 acres where we’ve planted more than 100,000 trees and understorey bushes, butterfly vines. It’s a huge project and we can only do it with the help of people who come along and get involved and throw their hearts in the ring.”

She said they had people of all ages involved in their year-round activities and setting up the festival over the holiday break.

“We’ve got a lot of younger people involved and we’ve got a really tremendous team of long-standing and new volunteers coming in who are over 50 who come along for the Woodford Folk Festival,” Annah explained.

“In particular they help us with the build which is from around about 10 December to Festival start which is 25 December (when we close the build part).

“They can be helping us with so many aspects, there are people in the teams who are helping us build the beautiful visual arts installations that we have, doing décor for venues, who are helping us set up the campgrounds for camping, who are helping prepare the site for everybody arriving. There are a huge number of people coming in and helping us. We have up to 500 volunteers in the build period. We love that people come, they camp on site. During the build we feed our volunteers three meals a day, we ask for hard work but it’s a terrific sense of camaraderie.

“We have a growing number of older people coming along and joining in the build, taking part, being part of teams, meeting a lot of new friends. For many it’s become part of their annual story. We are particularly looking to work with people or to encourage people who are travelling, with RV’s and caravans, the grey nomads, to come along and to join the build team. To be a part of our story for the lead-in to the festival and then they have a festival ticket with season camping and they can kick back and enjoy the event.

“It’s a great program it really is.

“We have a very well-run volunteer management system and people can go on line to our Woodford Festival site and at the top of the webpage there is a banner that says get involved, click on that and it drops down to a menu that says volunteer. Click on that and it will take you to a page that gives you a lot of information about volunteering.”

She said as well as setting up, people can also volunteer during the festival.

“People can come along and volunteer 30-35 hours a week during the week of the festival and they get a seasons camping ticket,” Annah said.

“There are a lot of options there too, again they could be front of house, they could work in bars, they could be working at some of our cafes and restaurants that we as a festival run. They could be helping with the maintenance of the event, working in the operations department there are so many options.

“It’s a wonderful team.

“It really makes it more special, it’s sort of your event then. Our festival grows, we’re a community arts organisation, we don’t have a big budget, we run a tight ship. We count on word of mouth. Our volunteers and the many, many thousands that have come to help over the years are a big part of that word of mouth.

“They spread the love because the festival is just the most amazing diverse experience to have. We have over 2000 performers on more than 30 stages over a six day period. Artists and presenters.

“It’s music of almost any genre it’s presenters doing workshops, visual arts workshops, music workshops, we have a full children’s festival that has six stages all of its own.”

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