June 26, 2019

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Opinion

Passion for music drives folk fest volunteer

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Volunteer resources manager Karla Ferguson (left) with Roberta Ronald, who is among 2,900 people helping out at the folk festival in July.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Volunteer resources manager Karla Ferguson (left) with Roberta Ronald, who is among 2,900 people helping out at the folk festival in July.

A self-described music addict, Roberta Ronald revels in volunteering at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

“I’ve been going to the folk festival since I was 17,” the South Osborne resident says. “It just kind of made sense to start volunteering.”

Ronald has volunteered on the festival’s traffic crew since 2014.

The 46-year-old and her fellow crew members direct traffic at the campground and main gate, ensuring that people navigate the parking lots in a safe and organized manner.

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A self-described music addict, Roberta Ronald revels in volunteering at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

"I’ve been going to the folk festival since I was 17," the South Osborne resident says. "It just kind of made sense to start volunteering."

Ronald has volunteered on the festival’s traffic crew since 2014.

The 46-year-old and her fellow crew members direct traffic at the campground and main gate, ensuring that people navigate the parking lots in a safe and organized manner.

"We try to make it as smooth as possible, and we try to have fun with people," she says.

Ronald began volunteering as a child.

"My mom was all about getting us involved in things," she says. "She got us going real early when we were in elementary school."

In addition to serving at the folk festival, Ronald volunteers with the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Ronald, who works as a veterinary technologist, also spends one week each winter volunteering at the Race to the Sky sled dog race in Montana.

She looks forward to the folk festival every year, especially since she’s become a crew co-ordinator. "Now I love volunteering because I really like taking care of my crew and making it a fun experience for them," she says.

Ronald is one of 2,900 people who will volunteer at this year’s folk festival, which takes place in Birds Hill Provincial Park July 11-14.

There is "a bit of a misconception" that volunteer jobs are hard to get, says Karla Ferguson, volunteer resources manager for the festival, but that isn’t the case. "We are looking for people, and anyone is welcome to volunteer with us."

The festival has openings on the following crews: fence, campground safety, site safety, traffic and transportation.

To fill those crews, the festival is holding a volunteer job fair at the Norwood Hotel (112 Marion St.) this evening from 7-9 p.m.

People who visit the job fair will have the opportunity to do short, in-person interviews with the various crew co-ordinators to find out what’s involved in volunteering and where they might be a good fit.

Ferguson encourages people who can’t be at the job fair to apply online at winnipegfolkfestival.ca/volunteer.

"We’re happy to accept any and all applications that come in, and we’re often adding people right up until the festival starts," she says. "So, it’s never too late to apply."

The benefits of volunteering go beyond the free festival pass, meals, T-shirt and program book that each volunteer receives, Ferguson says.

"There are more intangible benefits (from) being a part of making this amazing festival happen," she says.

For Ronald, those intangible benefits include the camaraderie she enjoys with her fellow volunteers and the pride they all feel after a job well done.

"Everybody is just really proud of what they’re doing because the festival wouldn’t be running as well as it does without all (of us) coming together, doing what we’re doing."

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

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