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Children's Festival needs 350 superhero volunteers

Positions to fill include ticket-takers, ushers, craft assistants, activity assistants, green team, and hospitality

Festival-goers attending the International Children’s Festival of the Arts typically celebrate at St. Albert’s downtown core on the banks of the Sturgeon River. Although most people are strangers to each other, a sense of community hangs in the air as folks of every stripe find common ground through a shared love of music, theatre, dance and puppetry. 

At its peak prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the non-profit children’s festival attracted up to 50,000 visitors. To handle large crowds, there’s a cool, well-oiled superhero volunteer force that allows ticket costs to stay low, in addition to providing information and direction. 

The 2024 festival takes place June 1-4. Kathleen Bell, the festival’s volunteer manager, estimates 300 to 350 volunteers will be needed to fill 950 shifts. 

“The range depends on how many shifts a person takes. We’ve been fortunate in the past some volunteers will pick up two or three shifts,” said Bell. 

Ticket-takers, ushers and announcers are required for feature performances. In addition, activity assistants are needed at craft tents, puppetry workshops, storytelling adventures and nature crafts. 

“For instance, Amanda Panda is putting on a hula hoop workshop and the assistant would hand out hula hoops and help clean up after it's over,” Bell said. 

Assistants could also be called on to support the information booth, outdoor stage, roving artists and any event requiring a few extra helping hands. 

Bell is also heavily promoting the Youth Ambassador Program designed for youth 12 to 18 years of age. 

“They can greet school buses and be the first friendly face at the festival people see," Bell said. "We have a mobile information booth set up at Park and Ride and as people come off the bus, they can answer people’s questions. They can be activity assistants, work on the green team, or if they love the microphone, they can introduce shows.” 

Another popular volunteer site for teens is Toddler Town.  

“They have the energy to keep up with toddlers and young kids. It’s also a very playful atmosphere. It’s less structured and the youth volunteers play with them, building block castles or at the sensory bins.” 

Bell is also courting the harder-to-fill positions of team leaders. These are individuals who enjoy tackling more responsibility and reap the reward of feeling they’ve made an impact. 

“We need them so much," she said. "A team leader is in charge of an activity. They get a walkie-talkie and information about their activity and organize with the artists. They then direct volunteers to how to best support the activity. They check in patrons and are in charge of troubleshooting, and if an artist needs something, they are the hub.” 

In return, volunteers receive a T-shirt, lanyard, light snacks and refreshments and ice cream treats. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own water bottles and fill up at refill stations. Once a volunteer completes a six-hour shift, they will receive a token for a show or activity based on availability. 

“There’s also a wrap-up party on Sunday’s closing night. There will be food and a performance by two acrobats,” Bell said.

Two Volunteer Orientation sessions are currently scheduled and will be held at the Arden Theatre, 5 St. Anne Street, on Monday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 24 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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