The Hiawatha Music Festival has only one paid employee, its part-time director. The only way such a large and successful event could take place is through the festival’s volunteers. Beginning long before the festival each July, volunteers assist with planning the event, selling tickets and camping passes, fielding questions, and performing other advance work. Area coordinators recruit monitors for each area, who assist with planning and also maintenance of each area.
At the festival itself, more than 400 people volunteer in dozens of areas. They sell tickets, direct traffic, run workshops, feed performers and other volunteers, count money, help attendees with information, check tent tags and much more. Some stay up late at night as security to make sure people don’t enter the festival without paid admission. There is also a first-aid station.
The efforts of all these people not only make the festival possible but also make the Hiawatha a true “people’s” festival.