We have been attending festivals for years now and the success of an event comes down to precision, organisation and having the right people manage different aspects of the event.
It isn’t a secret that our favourite event of the year is Bluefest and we were lucky enough to attend this year and it always exceeds our expectations. We were so excited after attending this year that we made a pact to each toher, that we will alway travel up to Byron Bay for this event if we are in Australia. It is becoming a tradition for us and one we just love experiencing every year.
Walking around Bluesfest we did notice one thing, there was no rubbish anywhere to be seen on the entire site. It reminded me of our visit to Disneyland in Orlando where the streets there were impeccably clean and free from any trash. The volunteers at Bluesfest do an amazing job and were working around the clock to ensure the event was a clean one. Other areas were also great on a volunteer basis, including the cloak rooms and lost property. Any festival of this size relies on a large team of volunteers to help support the event and fills many jobs that need doing throughout the days of the event.
Bluesfest this year was the cleanest I have ever seen it and it is a mammoth effort by the volunteers to keep the grounds as clean as possible. There were even time I didn’t even get a chance to place my rubbish in the bins provided and it was quickly and promptly collected by the orange wearing cleaning angels!
Being a volunteer sure has it perks and although they all have a job to do there is nothing better than volunteering your time for such a brilliant event like Bluesfest. We talked to one of the volunteers at Bluesfest to pick their brain on everything Bluesfest volunteering.
Thank you to Suzanne Chumbley Dougall for this interview and giving us an insight in what it is like to be a volunteer at Bluesfest.
How did you originally find out about Bluesfest and have you been before?
I knew of Bluesfest through word of mouth, I had never been before but had always wanted to. I work in hospitality and it’s not easy to get a consecutive days off over the Easter long weekend.
What was your inspiration/incentive to become a Bluesfest volunteer?
I volunteered because I could never afford to go as a patron. I could afford to go for maybe one day, but who could decide which day to go? So the next best option was to volunteer at Bluesfest.
What do you need to do to become a Bluesfest Volunteer? How do you apply/get selected?
I applied on-line. Heard back from them within 24 hrs with notice of acceptance to a particular team. They couldn’t tell me what I would be doing, other than I was on the ‘purple team’ and the time of my first shift. It would have been handy to know the times of all my shifts from the beginning, so I could plan my time at the festival better. I ended up phoning the Volunteer organisers and found out what was involved with volunteering on the “purple team”. I was to be in charge of ‘cloakroom, kids area, surveys, disabilities. They also let me know that I may be needed in other areas from day-to-day.
What types of jobs are there to do as a volunteer and what did you find yourself doing the most?
Other jobs include directing traffic in-car parks, strolling the grounds and picking up rubbish, assisting backstage with sound/lighting. I did different jobs each day except for one that I requested and to help out at the disability platform at the Crossroads stage.
How long did you have to work on a daily basis at Bluesfest?
I worked approximately 5-6 hours per day. There was a combination of some lunchtime shifts, some afternoon shifts and some evening shifts.
Did you get a chance to enjoy the festival or was it all work, work work? Which artist did you really want to see?
I had time to really enjoy the festival and all the artists when I wasn’t working. Bluesfest was open from noon to midnight, so there was plenty to see, do and eat! I really wanted to see Crosby Stills and Nash and my dream came true when I got to see them whilst working at the disability platform in Crossroads.
We have been a part of volunteer programs around the world and the hardest part is getting people to turn up. Was this a problem at Bluesfest? How was it overcome?
My experience this year showed that it did indeed happen at Bluesfest, the volunteer staff don’t allocate you a particular position, for this reason. They want their volunteers to be flexible and be willing to work in a different positions when needed. One job that wasn’t even part of my team’s jobs was allocated to me on one shift. I had to fold shirts in the merchandise shop and direct traffic during the day. I didn’t mind what I was doing as I was still a part of the festival and soaking up the Bluesfest atmosphere.
What was this thing you least liked about volunteering at Bluesfest?
The least ting I like was the Woodford camping area for Volunteers. This was poorly set up and we had to carry our tent/camping gear about 300 metres to the campsite because they wouldn’t let us bring our cars in to unload. This was definitely a bad start to the festival, but it all improved from then on.
Would you volunteer at Bluesfest again and would you push others to apply to do the same?
Definitely. I would advise others to volunteer, for sure! It is a great way to become a part of the festival, plus you get a chance to see some of the artists perform whilst volunteering.
What was you most memorable moment from Bluesfest 2012?
My most memorable moment was on day 2 when I was working at the disability platform at the Crossroads stage. Although I was there doing a job, I had an awesome 5 hours of dancing, singing and grooving to Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Crosby Stills and Nash. I still pinch myself, did I really experience all that?
Next time you are at a festival you should give a thought to all the hard workers behind the scenes and all the volunteers that make the festival a success. Bluesfest ran seamlessly and it is all thanks to not only the organisers but volunteers like Suzanne that make such an event a possibility. Thank you to each and everyone of the volunteers for making our Bluesfest such a memorable event.