Black Swamp Arts Festival puts out call for volunteers


BG Independent News

The Black Swamp Arts Festival needs a village.

That’s what it takes to stage the annual weekend event. It’s been that way for the festival’s 25 years.

“It takes everybody,” said Wynn Perry, volunteer coordinator for the festival. The festival draws on a cross section of the community – professionals, retirees, service clubs, churches, school clubs, university students, and more. “They all volunteer.”

The Black Swamp Arts Festival will be presented Friday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept. 10 this year, in downtown Bowling Green. None of the concerts, art show or youth activities happen without willing bodies.

Setting up for 2016 Black Swamp Arts Festival

The festival uses about 1,000 volunteers on the weekend itself – the all-volunteer committee that organizes it works throughout the year. That’s the sweat equity that’s invested into putting on a community-wide party.

With the festival less than a month away, organizers are in serious need of people to sign up, Perry said.

Volunteers are needed throughout the festival from Friday morning to help set up the stage and beer garden area to helping get the downtown back to normal on late Sunday afternoon. On Saturday morning volunteers on the dawn patrol help transform Main Street into a vibrant art fair, as more than 150 artists, plus university students, set up booths.

In between, help is needed selling tickets, merchandise, beverages, picking up trash, helping kids create art, and monitoring the stage and beer garden area.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the Festival,” Todd Ahrens, who chairs the festival committee, wrote in a statement.  From set up Friday morning to take down on Sunday evening, about 1,000 volunteers support activities to make the Festival run smoothly.

“We are still in need of volunteers this year in a number of areas and are hoping the community will rally to pick up one or more of the shifts available.”

Most shifts last two to three hours. People can sign up at: Clcik the Volunteer link at the top of the page.

Volunteers are needed throughout, the weekend but Perry is particularly concerned with Youth Arts, which uses about 300 volunteers, and gate monitors.

The gate monitors make sure that alcoholic beverages stay within the confines of the beer garden, and check that those carrying them have the bracelets indicating their IDs have been checked.

This year, gate monitors will have a shaded seat to sit in while they perform their duties. Those duties are essential to make sure the festival is operating within the constraints of its liquor license.

“Be part of the fun,” Perry said. “People usually do have fun.”

Volunteer signup continues throughout the weekend. Those wishing can see what’s needed at the volunteer check-in table at the main entrance to the Main Stage area.

“As we prepare to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” Ahrens said, “we appreciate how much the Bowling Green community supports the arts and are especially grateful to the volunteers who help make it happen.”