Monday, April 23, 2012

NEFFA Volunteering

The New England Folk Festival was this this weekend.  I volunteered for setup on Thursday evening and watching the Activity Room on Saturday morning.  Six hours of work earns a free ticket for the entire weekend and the satisfaction of having helped out.

Setup never ends
I am always amazed at the amount of tables, chairs and staging that are moved in and out of the Mansfield middle and high schools.  The planning must be staggering, both in the equipment and organizing a motley crew of volunteers.  I was grateful when my heavy lifting was done on Thursday night.  

"Setup" never really ends for the duration of the festival.  I caught Harold moving fans in the high school dance hall during the dance on Friday night.  It was a losing battle against the heat that night, but every bit of cooler air was appreciated!  The school custodial staff are there all during the festival, including the setup and strike.  They must be exhausted by the end of the weekend and then have to face all the kids coming back to school on Monday morning.  Whew!

This year I spent a couple of hours in the Activity Room.  It's impressive little room that's down a quiet hallway that doesn't have a lot of foot traffic.  There was a big chest of clothes in the back for dress-up.  There was cloth to sew, beads to string and yarn to crochet or macrame. There's lots of glue and tons of tape, lots of cardboard and paper and a series of how-to books in case one runs out of ideas on what to make.

Activity Room, awaiting for participants
I've volunteered for this before, but it's been before the festival officially kicked off.  There was nothing to do but unpack boxes of glue, paper, glitter, yarn and other materials.

This year, the room was already set up.  The first half hour was nothing but me and a fellow volunteer chatting about NEFFA.  By 11am, six to eight kids filed into the room, ranging from (by my guess) 5-15 years old.  These kids were pros; they obviously knew the routine better than me.  They plunked right down and started crafting:  a boat, a sword, a drum, paddle boards and a ball (which I saw them playing with later that afternoon), some pretty artwork with stars and feathers.  I spent my time fetching items and coming up with ideas to solve their technical artwork issues.  Most of the kids came in with an idea that they were ready to execute, just as soon as they could get their hands on the materials.  It was great to see what their imaginations created. 

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