With the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum having announced its 19th annual ROMP Festival June 22-25, it is now looking for volunteers to help during the four-day event.
Although the numbers and the performers on stage are the center of attention, volunteers also play a vital role in the success of the festival each year.
“Volunteers are really important to the whole festival and just try to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said Erin Rouse, project manager for the Hall of Fame & Museum and volunteer coordinator for the festival. “There are a lot of things that a person attends that they wouldn’t realize, like parking cars or driving golf carts; we go back and forth between people and their cars because they can’t even walk, especially if you have a bunch of chairs and other things to haul. There are a lot of things you wouldn’t know how to achieve that volunteers are important to.
“Volunteers are kind of the secret ingredient,” said Chris Joslin, executive director of the Hall of Fame & Museum. “We have a small team. We work with some vendors, but the volunteers really make it all work.
Volunteers are typically assigned different roles, such as parking assistants, front door work, merchandise sales, shower monitors, workshops, and ice and water hauling.
Rouse tries to use the skills of each volunteer.
“We ask them what their profession is when they apply, and we kind of try to match that with a job that we have,” Rouse said. “I think someone who recently applied is a manager in a restaurant, so I thought it would be perfect to help in the VIP tent because it’s hospitality – we serve food, and they will be a big part of this great experience for all VIP ticket holders.
Rouse also said they would be looking for volunteers to help with a kids’ zone at the festival, which will return this year.
Joslin said it was helpful if the volunteers were generally familiar with the festival and the music fans.
“They’re all kinds of ambassadors, really, and they’re all clearinghouses,” Joslin said. “A lot of these volunteers are superfans of the event anyway, so they represent the event and Owensboro well.”
Rouse notes that labor doesn’t start on the day of the festival.
“There’s a lot of upfront work to do – recruiting, communicating with them, what their job will be, their schedule,” Rouse said.
Rouse said all volunteers are required to work three four-hour shifts in exchange for a four-day ticket to the festival.
“In return for their hard work, we kind of pay them back with a ticket, and that includes camping as well,” Rouse said.
Due to last year’s festival schedule being in September due to COVID, the volunteer pool was around 100 helping, instead of the usual 200.
However, Rouse and Joslin note that they could see a return to normalcy by being able to host the festival in June.
“I would say we’re definitely on the right track to having a full team of volunteers,” Rouse said. “The other day I went to count all the different spots that we have, and I counted about 250; (that) would be a lot for us to have to fill all the stations we need. Last year was a light year with volunteers, but the ones we had really stepped up and were working more than their three-hour, four-hour shifts.
“I think there were some new factors and wrinkles in 2021 that we usually don’t face,” Joslin said. “Having the festival in the summer also opens the door for ticket buyers who like to travel for festival season, have out-of-school children, as well as people who are employed while on vacation for the festival. summer, like teachers and other students.
“I think it probably impacted our volunteer involvement last year, but our numbers were down a bit, so our volunteer pool kind of matched the needs of last year – really mysteriously worked. But I expect everything to come back to full force ”this year.