Elkhart Jazz Festival Volunteers Make Event a ‘Happy Place’

May 25, 2013

Ann Greenawalt has lived in the area for 60 years, and last summer was her first time at Elkhart Jazz Festival. She volunteered as a ticket taker and answered questions for festivalgoers.

Greenawalt will be back in downtown Elkhart again this year as one of the hundreds of volunteers who make the city’s largest music festival possible.

“It’s a happy place to be, and I enjoy being part of it,” said Greenawalt, who has been a volunteer at the Lerner Theatre for a year and a half.

Ranee Robinson, the jazz festival’s volunteer coordinator, said volunteers like Greenawalt are a key part of the event’s success every year.

“They help us maintain a safe, clean, spirit-filled weekend, and not only are they important to the production of the festival but they are also contributing to the culture of the arts in our community,” she said.

The last group orientation for jazz festival volunteers will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2, at the Lerner Theatre. Applications are available at the theater’s box office to be filled out and returned in advance of the training event.

Volunteers can work as venue greeters, help out with musician hospitality, sell merchandise and staff information centers throughout the festival.

“There’s always something to fit each individual to do,” Robinson said.

Volunteering at the jazz festival comes with quite a few perks. The festival will offer an expanded appreciation package this year for volunteers that includes an exclusive commemorative T-shirt. For every four-hour shift, volunteers receive a session pass to the festival, and volunteers who work an eight-hour shift earn $10 that can be spent at food booths at the Civic Plaza.

Robinson said most of the festival’s volunteers return year after year to help out.

Greenawalt, now an experienced festival volunteer, is excited to lend a hand at this year’s big event, which will run from June 20-23.

“You’re a helper, and you’re there to make somebody happy that they came to the jazz festival,” Greenawalt said. “That’s the best part.”

If you go

What: Elkhart Jazz Festival volunteer orientation

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2

Where: The Lerner Theatre, 410 S. Main St., downtown Elkhart

What else: Volunteer application forms are available in advance at the theater’s box office.