Each year, the Winnipeg Folk Festival serves as a family reunion for the Schwab family.

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This article was published 6/7/2015 (2552 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Each year, the Winnipeg Folk Festival serves as a family reunion for the Schwab family.

Dave and Dorothy are reunited with their daughters, Sarah and Rebeccah, who during the last few years have moved away from Winnipeg and now live in Portland, Ore., and Calgary, respectively.

They spend their time at the festival volunteering together at La Cuisine, the backstage kitchen where meals are prepared for volunteers and performers.

"Folk Fest is like Christmas because we're all together," said Dave, who retired recently after a career as a social worker with the Winnipeg School Division.

'Folk Fest is like Christmas because we're all together'

"None of us want to miss that opportunity of being together as a family," added Dorothy, an occupational therapist.

The Schwabs have volunteered at Folk Fest for the past 16 years.

At this year's festival, which starts Thursday evening, the family's efforts are being recognized with the Glass Banjo Award, which celebrates volunteers, supporters, partners and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the festival.

The Schwabs went to the festival even before they began volunteering, attending for a day or two each year when Sarah, 31, and Rebeccah, 29, were young children.

"I can remember them crawling under the blankets and falling asleep as we listened to the music at the mainstage," Dave said.

When Dave and Dorothy decided to volunteer at the festival, they quickly got their daughters involved.

"We do everything together," Dorothy said. "As a family, we wanted to give something back to the community... We love the outdoors and we love music, so this was a really good fit for us."

The music and the outdoors may have been the initial draw, but it's the people who keep the Schwabs coming back.

Dave and Dorothy co-ordinate the takeout crew, a group of 20 people that packages and sends out meals to volunteers and performers across the festival site who can't make it backstage to eat.

While the crew is often frantically busy, there is a genuine camaraderie that makes the work fun.

Without their friends on the crew, Dorothy doubts her family would be receiving the Glass Banjo Award.

"We really have to attribute this to that wonderful team that we work with," she said. "I think it's all about community and working together. We couldn't have done it on our own."

For Dave and Dorothy, who also volunteer their time in the winter teaching ski lessons for people with visual impairments through the Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba, it's important to give back.

"So much of the world is about take, take, take and what people can get out of life for themselves. To me, it can be so narcissistic," Dave said. "I just feel giving and serving is so important."

The Schwabs plan to volunteer at many festivals to come, and have warned their friends and relatives not to plan any significant events for that weekend.

"No one, absolutely no one, can get married the weekend of the Folk Fest, because the Schwab family won't be there," Dave quipped.


If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.