A couple of weeks ago April our volunteer coordinator forwarded this email from Leslie Lindballe (aka onepercentyellow when online), who travelled all the way from Camrose to volunteer for us this year. Unfortunately you won’t find Leslie in the volunteer photo because she was working her shift right then on Saturday afternoon — she wanted us to be sure to say that — she says it is a really cool feature of our Fair.
Leslie also wanted us to mention that the care represented by the water, watermelon and freezies that came around to the volunteer stations she says, are SO essential.
We love it when we find others who ‘get the festival thing’, and Leslie definitely gets it! Her message is below, we hope you find it as reaffirming as we did.
— snip! —
I do hope that you get many of these types of emails because I must say that SCF certainly knows how to treat its volunteers! I’ve been telling this story over and over again as I share my stories of the fair. Volunteering really is the best way to come to the fair. Please feel free to share my experience wherever you please! — LL
Volunteering at South Country Fair – a testimony to the value of community
What is the value of volunteering? For some of us still dealing with student loans or driving gas-guzzling 1981 camper vans halfway across the province to dance the heat-drenched night and day away, it’s the incentive of a cheap or free ticket. For others, it’s the chance to feel like you belong, even if you’ve shown up at the event flying solo. For still others, it’s a volun-Told situation. Your significant other or family member flips that t-shirt over your head and you’re suddenly in the thick of things. Whatever brought you to the work-for-free line, you can always hope to land one of those dream volunteer experiences. We’ve all heard of them. It’s when you have the best time ever, get to meet bands or get special treatment, just because you put in a few hours to help make the magic happen for all the folks who have more money than time.
Let me tell you, South Country Fair is just that volunteer position.
I’ll break it down for those who have never been to the fair (and why not!?!?!). SCF happens in Fort McLeod in a little campground next to the river. The bottom part of the campground is full of trees, is close to the river and right next to where the music happens. The top part of the camping area is a baseball field and grassy lot that is also fairly close to the music, but a bit more of a hike to get to the tunes. When you are a SCF volunteer, you are given early access to the camping area (Wednesday or Thursday night) and that means you can move into the prime real estate, set up a few tents for your friends, and be everyone’s hero for the weekend! And it’s only the volunteers that are allowed in that early, so the first couple days at the fair, you’re meeting all the other super rad folks who care so much about the festival that they’re donating their time. Or… you’re meeting fellow students, musicians, creative folk or others who get to spend their work days as Corin Raymond “paid to party” days.
So, you’ve already got the best spot to camp (for free!). You’ve met some cool people and beat the crowd in getting into the grounds, but what are you going to do for entertainment? Well, SCF puts on a volunteer supper and private pre-concert party for the volunteers on Thursday night! And let me tell you, the campfire jams that night are not to be beat! Free food, beautiful music, and then more camaraderie among the best kind of people – volunteers!
Ok… now let’s get down to business. It’s Friday. It’s GO time! Get to your shift in your snazzy t-shirt and be treated like gold. I can’t tell you how many times over the weekend that I heard shout-outs from the stage, from the festival go-ers from fellow volunteers how awesome and essential volunteers are! One host created a hug-a-volunteer mandate and suddenly there were people hugging me and I felt compelled to hug people in those lovely blue shirts.
But it’s work, right? Volunteering is work, right? Well, yes and no. You know those days of getting on your riding mower with tunes in your ears and a beverage in your hand and feeling like you’re really on a Harley on the open road? That’s more what it’s like. Since SCF volunteering is so rad, there are a lot of us! That means that there are many hands that make light work constantly. I have yet to be on a volunteer shift at SCF where I felt drained or defeated.
My favourite shift this year was not my own! I accompanied another volunteer to her shift and sat at the gate with my ukulele for a couple hours jammin with the girls there. We made up a clever song about two wieners I had seen sitting on a fire in the rain the day before.
And then, there’s the fair! That’s it’s own story all together. SCF is unparalleled. Amazing music, great venue, awesome vendors, river floating, music, dancing, theme camping. Oh my! It’s like a dozen parties in one.
And then, suddenly it’s Sunday. And…. yet ANOTHER volunteer party with free delicious food and a private rockin’ concert followed by the last of the campfire jams for the weekend with those same sweet folks you met on Wednesday.
Volunteering at SCF is the best 8 to 12 hours I have ever put in at a festival. This must be the feeling of being a queen… the work is light, the gold is plentiful and that lovely feeling of being uber important just keeps you waving!