Northwest Folklife gearing up, seeking volunteers

Posted on March 17th, 2011 by master

The Northwest Folklife festival, which will have a Bulgarian theme this year, may be two months away, but with the turning of winter to spring the annual Memorial Day Weekend celebration seems to be just around the corner. For those planning the festival, it is.

“This year we celebrate our 40th Anniversary Festival and have received a proclamation from the Mayor’s office that declares May 27th to 30th Northwest Folklife Weekend,” writes Folklife Community Engagement & Volunteer Coordinator Holly Decker.

Folklife, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to create “opportunities for individuals and communities of the Pacific Northwest to celebrate share and sustain the vitality of folk, ethnic and traditional arts for present and future generations,” is very much a product of the community, and relies on community members to keep itself going every year all while staying free for the public.

“Though many believe we are funded by the city because our Festival takes place on the Seattle Center campus, we receive very little city funding. The organization is able to sustain its self and have the Festival remain free to the public mostly in thanks to individual donors (financial support) and volunteers (approximately 800 volunteers),” says Decker. “Since this Festival, the nation’s largest free community arts festival takes place right here on Queen Anne, I thought, let’s get this community even more involved. Volunteer opportunities for people of all ages!”

This year Folklife is looking for volunteers to work at the festival, and help make preparations in the months leading up to Memorial Day Weekend. According to Decker, the festival accepts volunteers of all ages, though those under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The festival, which runs runs four days (May 27, 28, 29, 30), is in need of volunteers to fill shifts from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Volunteers are also needed to help set up and tear down the Festival the week before and the week after. There are no hour requirements for volunteers, and typical shifts range from 2.5 to 3 hours.

There are a number of position available, from volunteering as a Vera Gallery assistant, pre-festival merchant aide, office assistant, and “a bit of everything else in between,” Decker says. For a full list of available volunteer opportunities click here (.pdf).

“The area we need help in most is in our Greeter department. Greeters are the heart of our Festival. Greeters staff our entrances and make sure every patron is acknowledged while entering or exiting the Festival. Greeters hand out program guides to patrons and encourage them to make donations as they enter or exit the Festival. This position is for individuals who are friendly and embody the spirit of Folklife. A  typical Greeter shift is 2.5 hours and requires the ability to stand for a majority of the shift,” Decker says.

“A great new program we’ve introduced this year is entrance “sponsorship”. Northwest Folklife does not allow organizations to purchase booth space at our Festvial, but this year we are allowing community groups with similar mission statement to “sponsor” a Festival entrance for a day. That means they provide volunteers to work the entrances and in exchange are allowed to distribute outreach materials for their organization. This is also a great project for any groups who want to volunteer.”

Groups interested in volunteering at Folklife this year should contact Holly directly at Individuals who’d like to volunteer can go to, click on the “Get Involved” tab and complete the online application.

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