I am Folk Festival

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Happy Folk Festival 2013!!!

Isn’t it ironic that the first folk festival my Daddy worked, it poured down rain, and the first folk festival I work, it rains? I see what you did there, Daddio. 

I absolutely loved volunteering. Asking for donations, meeting people, seeing old friends, giving out stickers, it was perfect. (Plus I got to hear a lot of amazing new music) Let me give you a play by play. 

Saturday afternoon I worked at the Community Foundation Stage. Working the buckets, you mainly walk around the area and ask for donations that help keep the festival free. Then before every couple of shows, introducers come on stage and do an “ask”, asking for donations, and bucket brigaders like myself go out and that’s when we collect the most money. I ran into family friends, Planet Granite friends, VCU friends, SGHS friends, and made plenty of new ones! In fact, Planet Granite friend Todd introduced me to Alex Meixner of the Alex Meixner Band, a really good polka group, who then invited me onto stage while he played and do an impromptu Ask! I stayed after my shift for about 45 minutes but I didn’t mind at all. I loved being there so much I didn’t want to leave, plus I got to see Sarah Kate! I almost immediately ran into my friend Courtney and got to enjoy the festival with her, which was so awesome, seeing that I never see her around campus and really missed our talks from Saint Gertrude art class. 

I went out for round two today in the same gross weather, but on Brown’s Island. It started out the same, a need to pull out my not-ratchet umbrella and ask the same people for donations constantly until more showed up when the rain stopped pouring. I had a little bit more fun, meeting a cute VCU boy/fellow brigader and having a competition to see who would get the most money. (I actually don’t know who won, he walked away later when high schoolers starter flirting with him.) Seredipity occurred when a bunch of my Honors College friends passed by and visited me for a while! (Seeing all of you guys made me so happy!!!) The weather was worse today, but I think I gathered a good money of cash for the crowd we had. After my shift, I got my favorite food at the festival- hot, fried plantains to warm me up, with an Indian vegetarian samosa. I tried Thai Iced Tea for the first time just where has it been my whole life?

So now, I’m sitting here, in my bright orange  volunteer shirt wondering if I’m turning into my father. I made friends with festivallers on Saturday who recognized me on Sunday, somehow found my way on stage, and kept his same enthusiasm about the festival and Richmond. I’m so blessed to have been a part of this great part of Richmond, something Daddy helped start. So many of the people I saw this weekend I know through him, and I made a few Gary like connections myself. I already am counting down the days for next year’s festival. 

And would you like to know something else? Every year Daddy volunteered, he would come home with that year’s poster. Since this was my first year volunteering, I decided to revive the tradition and buy the 2013 poster for my first year as a volunteer. Did you see the cats on it? Did Daddy have some divine intervention influence on the artist when it was created? I know he’s loving it, zee little kitties having a campfire

The Richmond Folk Festival means the world to me, not just as a volunteer or a Richmonder, but as Gary Gerloff’s daughter. If you went, you probably saw the Gary Gerloff Trail. That was dedicated to him months after he died, during the 2009 festival. Thank you, committee, for keeping my father’s spirit in the festival he brought to Richmond. The Folk Festival was up there in his great loves of life- people, baseball, food, music, and Planet Granite Pool. I know he was watching this festival especially close this year, maybe teasing us a little bit with the rain, but that’s okay. It might have been his little test to me: “Claire, if you want to work the Folk Festival, you’re going to have to go through what I did nine years ago during the flood of the first festival. But you’re my baby, so I won’t make it that bad.”

 I did it, Daddy. 

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