As a city with the reputation for being Canada’s Festival City, there’s no doubt our festivals are a source of community pride and an important element to our quality of life.

That’s why on May 13, organizers of the second annual Festival Volunteer Fair hope Edmontonians will come out to the TransAlta Arts Barns, located at 103 Street and 84 Avenue, between 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help 32 unique arts and culture-related festivals that need volunteers.

The fair, hosted by Volunteer Edmonton with the support from the Edmonton Arts Council, Fringe Theatre Adventures, the Edmonton REALTORS® Association, Industry Images and River City Event Rentals, is free of charge to attend.

“This once-a-year event is a great opportunity to learn more about the diversity of Edmonton’s festivals and to find out how to join the fun as a volunteer,” says Janice Bell, director of Volunteer Edmonton. “We want to make festival volunteering easy and accessible to everyone.”

While many people support and attend the various festivals that happen throughout the year, current statistics show that about 54 per cent of Edmontonians do not volunteer. It’s not because people don’t want to give back to their community—most people simply do not have time or were never asked directly to become involved in volunteering.

Since most festivals operate for a short period of time and offer episodic opportunities, folks can volunteer for a few days or a few weeks at most—which is great for students of out of school, busy parents, retirees, newcomers or just for people who have a limited amount of time to contribute. 


With a number of different festivals celebrating visual arts, dance, music, culture, film and performance featured, there could be opportunities to volunteer in a variety of positions. Greeters, stage assistants, costume designers, food services, clean up crews, cashiers and security are just a few of the examples of the kinds of positions visitors may find at the fair.

Visitors will have the opportunity to browse the various displays and booths, speak one-on-one with festival representatives about volunteering and fill out volunteer applications on the spot. The idea is to provide visitors with the ease and convenience of a “one-stop festival volunteer shopping” experience.

Noree Claerhout, resource development manager for the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, believes the Festival Volunteer Fair is a great opportunity for festivals to not only recruit volunteers, but to raise awareness for festivals.

“What people don’t realize is the sheer number of festivals that exist,” she says. “Many of these festivals are small, completely volunteer-run, newly established or lack the budget required to reach a wide audience. The Festival Volunteer Fair offers festivals an opportunity to showcase their festival and what they’re all about.”

Plan to attend the Festival Volunteer Fair to learn how to support our diverse festivals and be part of the volunteer spirit that makes our city a great place to live. This is our chance to give back. 

To view a complete list of the festivals participating in the second annual Festival Volunteer Fair or to learn more about volunteerism, visit www.volunteeredmonton.com.

-- Evelyn Pham