Festival has less than half of the 400 volunteers it needs, organizer says.

TD Kitchener Blues Festival 2018 is short on volunteers. The decline is part of a trend the festival has experienced for the past few years, according to one of the festival’s organizers.

Joe Cormier is the volunteer director for the annual blues fest said they have fewer than half of the 400 volunteers needed for the weekend event.

“We’re a little bit more than a month away from the festival. We’re not pushing the panic button yet, but we are a little bit concerned,” he said. “Volunteering is something that everybody wants to do and thinks they should do, but where do you find time in your busy schedule?”

‘It’s not really a big commitment’

While sponsors are vital to mounting the not-for-profit festival, Cormier said that volunteers are also crucial to executing the show each summer.

“It’s not really a big commitment,” Cormier said. “We only ask for one 4-hour shift over the course of the weekend. Many of the volunteers do way more than that but, you know, if you could give us four hours of your time, we are really appreciative of that.”

Cormier said some jobs are physically demanding. Stage hands, for example, must be able to lift more than 22 kilograms (50 pounds).

High school students can earn volunteer hours

Merchandise sales volunteers should have customer service and money-handling skills, and a big contingent of Ontario Smart Serve Certified volunteers are needed. Smart Serve certification is required not only to serve alcohol but also to handle it, he said.

Volunteers need to be at least 16 years old and high school students can earn volunteer hours.

“One good area for high schoolers, and a major concern, is our Eco Team that helps keep Victoria Park clean for when we turn it back over to the city at the end of the festival,” said Cormier.

He said volunteers get a behind-the-scenes experience at the festival, T-shirts and a meal voucher for each shift they work.

“And, in September,” said Cormier, “after everyone has recovered, we have a volunteer appreciation party. That’s free for our volunteers, and we have a great band and lots of prizes that we give away at that party.”

The TD Kitchener Blues Festival is on from Aug. 9 to 12.

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/td-kitchener-blues-festival-joe-cormier-1.4723342