Bangor’s Folk Festival seeks volunteers for 13th edition

Posted July 10, 2014, at 10:30 a.m.
Last modified July 10, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Volunteers are still needed for the American Folk Festival, planned for August 22-24 at the Bangor Waterfront.

The event, which typically brings about 90,000 visitors to the waterfront for three days of multicultural music, is expecting more attendees this year — its 13th year.

The site services coordinator, Denise Libby, is still looking for at least 500 more volunteers to help pull off the annual fest.

“The success of our festival really does rely on volunteers,” Libby said. “There are a lot of little details that go on behind scenes that people don’t see unless they volunteer.”

The event requires a total of 800 volunteers in 18 different areas such as transportation, vending, information booths and the on-site donation team. Volunteers usually sign up for 4-hour shifts.

Volunteers are welcomed in all positions. Currently the on-site donation team and safety escort jobs need the most help.

John Bragg of Bangor has attended the Folk Festival since its inception, but began volunteering last year after he retired.

“I just think it’s a tremendous boost for the area and one more of the exciting activities that makes Bangor such a great place,” Bragg said. “I want to see it continue and survive and lend my hand to it. The cultural diversity of it is … quite different than something you get at other competing outdoor activities.”

Bragg works as part of the operations team, which begins setting up on Monday for the Friday opening and cleans up after the festival on the following Monday and Tuesday.

“There are all kinds of things that need to be done to make [the waterfront venue] ready for the thousands that’ll be descending upon it and make it safe,” Bragg said.

In addition to their time, volunteers gain access to an exclusive party with the musicians at the festival and also receive a T-shirt.

Libby said there are currently 300 volunteers signed up.

“Without the volunteers, the festival really doesn’t go as smoothly. The volunteers get a look at the festival that most spectators do not. They get to see a little bit more of the behind-the-scenes of the festival,” she said.

Bill and Hazel Hiscock of Bangor have been volunteering for the event since 2004, when Bangor held the National Folk Festival for the third time.

“We thought it was a great thing for Bangor. It was free for anybody, it didn’t matter what class you were in, or what have you,” Hazel Hiscock said.

After holding the national event from 2002 to 2004, the American Folk Festival was introduced in 2005 to continue the celebration of “multicultural traditional arts — music, dance, crafts, food and storytelling.”

The event is free to the public with a suggested $10 donation.

The Hiscocks are part of the “Bucket Brigade,” which collects donations throughout the venue. This is Hazel Hiscock’s favorite part, because she gets to meet people as she wanders around to collect money.

However, without volunteers, the event wouldn’t be possible.

“What keeps it running year after year is fundraising,” Bragg said. “It requires a lot of volunteers, hopefully persuasive volunteers.”

Volunteers can sign up on the American Folk Festival website’s volunteer page.

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