Now that WordFest has wrapped up for another year, I wanted to talk about Volunteers.  I’ll just throw this out there, but it’s one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies.  And John Candy is great as well, playing Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, Washington.  And now I want to talk about volunteers, at WordFest.  Without them, there wouldn’t be a WordFest.  Or if there was, it’d be really poorly run, and generally a mess, and nobody would enjoy it all. 

I have sort of a soft spot in my heart for the volunteers, as I used to be one.  It’s true. You can even check the guide, I’m listed as staff and as a volunteer. I’m in pretty lofty company being listed twice you know.  But seriously, my association with WordFest did begin through volunteering, manning a booth at last summer’s Sun & Salsa Fest, preaching the good word about…WordFest.  Just think, if I hadn’t taken that volunteer position, I might never have been asked to write this blog, and you might never have been treated to such entertainment.  The horrors.

Of course, my work volunteering was nothing compared to the work put in by an army of people who do so not only during the six days of WordFest, both in Calgary and in Banff, but also throughout the year.  If you’re unsure of who the volunteers are, or rather were, they were the ones wearing the black t-shirts all week. They were the ones who sold you your ticket to Alberta (Un)Bound, or perhaps they showed you to your seat at Poetry Bash. Maybe they were Darlene and Colleen, taking tickets at ‘Persuasion’ who somehow convinced me to

This tray was overflowing before I arrived

mention their names in this blog. You might have bought a 50/50 ticket from a volunteer, working tirelessly to ensure WordFest is funded, while asking for nothing in return.  Some of my favorite volunteers were the ladies who looked after the volunteer lounge at the Vertigo.  They kept me fed with sandwiches, veggie platters, soups, desserts, and of course, cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.  Michelle and Lauren, working the hospitality suite at Le Germain, also made sure I was getting a steady intake of cheese, and washing it down with an ice-cold bottle of beer.  These are the true heroes.

But volunteers aren’t just working the events, they’re also working behind the scenes, making sure everything goes off without a hitch. They’re the ones who serve as artist liaisons and the transportation staff, who work tirelessly to make sure each artist and author is not only looked after, but also on time for their event.  There are also the people who help out around the WordFest office throughout the year, manning telephones, stuffing envelopes and occasionally eating cake for Angela’s…27th birthday I believe it was.

All kidding aside, the volunteers are as important to the success of WordFest as the artists and authors themselves, and without them, there would not be a festival for us to enjoy.  Three cheers for the WordFest volunteers!


Don’t forget to follow the Official WordFest hashtag on twitter, #wordfest2011


WordFest on Facebook



Filed under 2011 Festival Blog, Behind the Scenes

3 responses to “Volunteers

  1. Colleen Biondi

    Thanks, Bryan. Appreciate you honouring your word :-). Colleen (volunteer at Persuasion)

  2. Ton

    you do have to admit, the Transportation Volunteers were a fun lot though 🙂

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