March 17, 2017
Recently I’ve been wanting to get back into the habit of putting content on the Internet regularly. I keep putting it off. Screw it, I’m just going to start with this. So here’s a quick recap & photos from a recent volunteer night that I organized.
New England VegFest is now on going on its 8th year. This year’s festival is coming up on Sunday April 30, 2017 at the DCU center. It originally started as Worcester VegFest but as the event grew, us organizers realized that we were pulling in people from all over the region but by calling it Worcester VegFest we were giving the impression that we were much smaller. Last year we had 12,000 attendees and somewhere around 120 exhibitors. So a few years ago, we renamed and relaunched the event as New England VegFest. And the event is mostly run by volunteers. One way that we use a volunteer labor strategically is by hosting regular volunteer work parties where people work in small groups to whittle away some of what needs to get done before the festival.
Up until last year the festival had been entirely by volunteers. This year Nicole came on board as the first paid staff person and took the role of the lead organizer. But for 7 years we organized this festival with only volunteer labor. In the early years we used to do these weekly volunteer work parties—people would get together at someone’s house crank out a lot of the tasks that we needed to do to prepare like sending out letters, making calls to businesses to invite them to exhibit, emailing companies asking for product donations that we could give out as samples, making signs, all sorts of stuff. I totally loved doing these events. Someone usually brought food to share and it you’d work with a group of people for the night usually made some new friends. It’s fun.
Last year I started doing these volunteer nights again at my house but they were sporadic. This year I’m excited that we were able to bring on a new organizer, Katie, onto the team who could coordinate the volunteer nights and they’ve been ramping up.
Yesterday Katie ran her first volunteer night and it was great. Around twenty-or-so people came from all over New England to help get ready for the big day. Most people were from Worcester but a few came from other nearby cities and one couple even drove down from New Hampshire.
During the event small groups worked on different projects, some made props for the photo booth, some made yard signs, others cut vinyl stickers, printed shirts for volunteers, printed posters, made buttons, and the group did lots of other small tasks to get ready for the festival.
A great volunteer work night. I’m looking forward to the next one in a couple weeks.