Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Yep, we are approaching the end of August so it's nearly time for the American Folk Festival. Since 2005 the city of Bangor, ME has held the festival at a not inconsiderable cost. It's true that most of the festival is paid for by generous donations (the principal one being Stephen King) but it still costs about a million bucks (if I recall correctly) to put on for the three or so days it is held.

This will be my fifth year of volunteering and every year somebody asks me what I do. Am I setting up stages, rigging lighting, plugging in speakers? Well no, nothing like that. All of those tasks are performed by skilled roadies who I'm sure are in a union and don't need a klutz like me to come along and screw up everything for them. On top of these obvious tasks there are about a million and one other things that need doing. One of the biggest task is shifting chairs around. There are six stages along the banks of the Penobscot River and most of them have chairs in front them for the festivalgoers. Every morning these chairs are scattered around half of Bangor (it seems) so they all have to be returned to their 'homes' for that day's series of performances. Other tasks include setting up risers for mixing desks, hanging sponsor signs, rigging lights in the performers' tents, setting up dozens of tables in the beer tents and many other jobs.

It's yet to significantly rain in the history of the festival. Instead it's usually hot days, all of them working outside of course. We start around 7 in the morning and as the week progresses the nights get later until by Friday it's not uncommon to knock off around 1-2 in the morning. Friday is the opening day (kick off at 5.30pm) so it's always busy and the public eat their way through most of the food stalls. This means replenishing all these stores with ice and that has to be done after everybody has left. In past years this has meant Felicia, Jeff and I (plus whoever else is there to help) doing midnight runs to the ice trucks to replenish the ice boxes in the Food Court.

And then we start all over again on Saturday. Every stage has a schedule of performances, so my friend Roger and I run around in the morning swapping all the signs out with that day's schedule. We fix any sponsors' banners or signs that have fallen off during the night and then get to work rearranging all the chairs and tables that have 'wandered' over the site. By the time the public show up things start to slow down and we can enjoy the festival. This also means we can have some fun. In 2007 we had a blast building a tow hitch for Felicia's golf cart so that she could tow her trailer behind her. You can see the pictures in our AFF Gallery. Here's the movie:

So we leave today for another exciting year at the AFF, no doubt full of hard work and high jinx.

By the way, Michael Owen scored a cracking goal against Wigan on Saturday. Got a good feeling about him for this season.

Sean, the Dad.

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