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Guelph Jazz Festival seeking volunteers ahead of September

Between 100 to 150 volunteers are needed to run the festival
20210916 Guelph Jazz Festival Teri Parker’s Free Spirits 4
Teri Parker’s Free Spirits performed at Mollison Park during the 2021 Guelph Jazz Festival.

The show will go on for the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but volunteers are needed behind the scenes during the event.

This year, the GJF is returning to Carden Street and Market Square from Sep. 15 to 18. Other events will also be happening outside of the downtown core, including performances in the park, on Saturday, Sept. 17. 

Between 100 to 150 volunteers are needed to run the festival, said Scott Thomson, artistic and general director of the GJF. Currently, the festival is short 85 per cent of its volunteers. 

“It does sound like a large number, but I’m already happy to know that 15 per cent is covered," Thomson said about the volunteer numbers. "Also, we just had the Hillside Festival ended (Sunda) and they have huge volunteer needs. Now, a lot of those people can consider volunteering for the Guelph Jazz Festival in mid-September."

Like other cultural events, Thomson said the GJF is always looking for volunteers, but in the summer is when the need ramps up. While the festival will review volunteer numbers in the second half of August, there is no major concern about the number for now. 

"I've been in the position of artistic director since 2017 and we've always had enough volunteers to run the festival effectively," said Thomson. 

With two months to go, there are a variety of roles that need to be filled for the GJF. Thomson said they need everything from volunteer coordinators, to box office volunteers, hospitality volunteers, volunteer drivers and more.

“We need volunteers on the Market Square site to distribute information, like brochures and programs, or to sell artists merchandise. We need volunteer bartenders to work at the beer tent, they need to have smart serve qualifications. We need volunteer gatekeepers to let vehicles in and out of the restricted areas, we need people to help set up the site and tear it down after that fact,” said Thomson.

One of the roles the festival can have difficulty filling is volunteers to help separate waste and recycling at the Market Square site. 

“Often, we have volunteers who serve in that role to help patrons so the waste finds the right receptacle,” said Thomson. “For reasons that I maybe don’t need to describe, that's not always the most popular volunteer position, though some people take it to heart, because like the festival itself, we're committed to environmental stewardship and that involves following the city's very responsible waste management system.

"That's one component of the festival that we take to heart. Artistic excellence, but also serving the community in different ways, and environmental stewardship is one of them."

Thomson hopes volunteers will get a sense of contributing to their community, a sense of camaraderie with other volunteers and artist, and joy of live music. To sign up as a volunteer, residents can go to

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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