Festival toasts volunteers for decades of hard work

Winnipeg Folk Festival (WFF) attendees took a break from the music on the afternoon of July 13 to honour “milestone” WFF volunteers.

People gathered under the Folk School tent to watch volunteers be called up and recognized  for their dedication. Volunteers were toasted with champagne and cake was served.

Volunteers who reached the 20-year mark, 30-year mark and 40-year mark were recognized.

After thanking the WFF’s volunteer program’s sponsor, Assiniboine Credit Union, Karla Ferguson, the WFF’s volunteer resources manager, called volunteers up onstage one by one to be applauded for their decades of hard work on various crews. Some volunteers have been around for so long that they had been on crews that no longer exist.

“Many volunteers often tell me, ‘I don’t really need the recognition’ […] They’d prefer to be beyond the scenes,” said Ferguson.

Nonetheless, the volunteers present posed for a photo. Some also walked away with gifts from the Handmade Village.

“I did the math on the number of years we have had all these people that are being recognized today volunteering, and it’s 700 even,” said executive director Lynne Skromeda.

“Seven hundred years of experience are being rewarded here today.”

“The volunteers really are the heart of the festival. They are the lifeblood of the festival.”

The WFF has relied on volunteers since its inception in the 1970s, and  the volunteer numbers have grown to the thousands today.

Speaking to the volunteers, Skromeda said “You guys make it sing, and we are so, so grateful.”

A full listing of 2019’s milestone volunteers is available in the WFF’s program.