Report by Trevor Connell
For the past three years I have joined 1200 volunteers at the National Folk Festival. This year I had a chat to many of them to find out why they volunteer, what job they are doing and what is their day job.
Some were volunteering for the first time while others have been along for over 20 festivals. Some just volunteer at the NFF while others do a circuit of festivals.
While they all share a love for the music, many talked about the community of volunteers they have become a part of.
The National Folk Festival attracts over 50,000 visitors a year and the volunteer force is essential to the success of the festival that this year included 1321 performers.
The NFF employs only six full time staff with another four part time and for a few weeks either side of the festival another four on contract.
Contractors are hired to build the temporary structures, the stages and temporary seating. Lighting sound and video production is also provided by contractors.
Volunteers fill roles as diverse as MCs, venue and stage management, office management, ticket sales, communications, bar staff, gate and parking monitors, community artists, cleaners, transport, performer support, and many more. In return for providing around 20 hours of their time these volunteers then have plenty of time to enjoy the festival attractions.
A great number of volunteers travel from around the country and camp on site at the festival (for free).
A frequent message from the volunteers is that others should join the family no matter what their skills or experience because there is always some job that can be found for them.
This interview starts with two of the full time staff; the Festival Director, Pam Merrigan then the Production Manager Amy Whiting. Then a variety of volunteers.
And here is an extended interview with Pam Merrigan about the history of the Festival and more about the performers.
If you would like to offer your services as a volunteer for next year you should be in for a treat as Pam Merrigan is planning a super festival to celebrate the 50th National Folk Festival next Easter.