“It has such deep community roots with so many volunteers,” says the performer, adding Mariposa “feels more like a family reunion than a festival.”
An intangible part of the Mariposa Folk Festival’s success is the event’s loyal and dedicated volunteer base.
Volunteer Coordinator Isobel Hill says 620 volunteers have signed up this year and more are on a waiting list.
“We have people who have been volunteering for years,” she says. “They come back every year.”
Hill says it’s the atmosphere that keeps volunteers coming back year after year. She says there are 60 volunteers in welcome functions, 50 in site security, 50 in performance and the rest of the crews have between 10 and 50 volunteers.
“I think the volunteers are extremely important,” Hill said. “How would you replace 620 volunteers? Paid security would only put us out of business.”
This year there weren’t any major hurdles or challenges when it comes to volunteers, Hill says.
The festival volunteers, she notes, are passionate about making the festival a success.
“I look at the names of the volunteers and I know them,” Hill said. “I’ve been seeing these people for five to seven years.”
Michael Scorer comes from Peterborough to volunteer at the festival every year and has done so for the past 12 years.
“I love it,” he said. “For me, it’s not so much about the music as it is about the interactions I have with people as I help set things up and get things ready.”
Scorers volunteer for accreditation and enroll volunteers, media and artists.
“It allows me to be in someone’s life for maybe a minute or two,” he said. “It’s just a really nice feeling to meet people and this short interaction.”
Scorer says he missed the festival during the pandemic. He admits he’s feeling a little rusty after a two-year hiatus.
“For me, the challenge this year was getting things done and getting things done,” he said. “In the last two years we haven’t had much to do with urgency.”
Rebecca Ness has come from Collingwood for the fourth time to volunteer for the festival’s 50/50 draw.
“I’m doing this because I love the festival,” she said. “Better voluntarily than not voluntarily”
Selling 50/50 tickets gives Ness the opportunity to speak to festival-goers of all ages and backgrounds.
“This is the best festival,” she said. “I love walking around listening to music, I would do that anyway if I wasn’t volunteering.”
The winner of this year’s 50/50 draw will win $10,000. Ness is determined to have tickets sold out by the end of the weekend.
“Some people buy tickets every day,” she said. “Some people are really super superstitious too.”
Ness says some 50/50 ticket buyers only buy a ticket on Sundays, while others buy one a day and others 10 at a time.
“Everyone has their own method of happiness,” she said. “It’s kind of fun.”
Dala’s Amanda Walther and Shelia Carabine performed on the Ruth stage on Saturday morning. The Toronto duo say the folk festival volunteers “go above and beyond” to make their experience a positive one.
“You feel like family here,” says Walther. “It has such deep roots in the community with so many volunteers. It feels more like a family reunion than a festival.”
Walther says the festival would not be a hit with artists and music fans without its loyal volunteers.
“Everything works because of them,” she said. “When we drove in, there were probably 25 people helping us on our way, which is the best way to make us feel welcome,” added Carabine.
Having volunteers who want to be at the festival is what keeps Dala coming back to the festival for years to come.
“It was so positive,” Carabine said. “I will remember this experience and the volunteers who gave their time and made a difference to me as an artist.”