COMMUNITY • BY MORGAN FECTO
“We are looking for new blood, we are looking for new ideas, we are looking for new energy,” said Takoma Park Folk Festival official Robbi Kimball.
She hopes to find them at a Feb. 22 “Launch Party,” this year’s festival kick-off event. Potential leaders and other volunteers are urged to attend.
“We are trying to get the word out through the city,” said Kimball, “there are these opportunities to help the city and to help the arts in the city.”
The Takoma Park Folk Festival (TPFF) may have started as a humble fundraising event founded by Sam Abbott, with a single stage and food provided by volunteer committee members, but it has grown and endured throughout the years, said former TPFF chair Kathie Mack.
“Music that tells a story and charms people, that’s got to always be relevant,” said Mack.
“There’s something in the Takoma Park community that wants the festival to go on,” said Judy Oliver, the program committee chair for this year’s festival and a volunteer since 2007. “We continue to morph into something new.”
Today the festival is an official Maryland nonprofit organization, and has expanded since the first festival in 1978 to include seven stages, crafts, food, and community tables.
Some things about the TPFF, however, have remained the same since day one; most notably being that it is “an event by and for the community of Takoma Park,” as the TPFF website says.
Volunteer jobs range from running to Costco for more toilet paper during the festival, to running the festival as a coordinating committee member, said TPFF officials.
“Over the past years our growing pains have been a little more pronounced than usual,” said Kimball of the TPFF organization. “The festival is a living event. It grows, it changes, and it reflects the personalities of the people at the top.”
Officials said they hope to find volunteers for five leadership positions with the launch party. Not only are some of these positions newer to the volunteer organization, but more positions than usual need to be filled, said TPFF officials.
“We are always trying to tinker with the organization to figure out what works best,” said Oliver.
The launch party will be held Feb. 22 from 7-9 p.m. in the Takoma Park community center’s Hydrangea Room. Although the coordinating committee hopes to attract more volunteers with this public meeting, officials said that support for the event is still very high.
“The performers are not paid, and that’s really something, to volunteer your talent,” said Mack of the eager volunteer performers.
Oliver said they received more volunteer applications from potential performers than they could accommodate last year.
“That just goes to show you that among musicians, that’s the place to be,” said Oliver of the annual festival.
The crowds have also continued to show up for the TPFF, said officials, although they do not have a precise way of measuring attendance.
“It speaks to people no matter where they are,” Oliver said of the folk music performed at the TPFF. “Folk music is indigenous.”
After 35 years, the TPFF itself is indigenous to the Takoma Park community, and volunteers with the event vouch for its ability to connect people.
Getting to know you
“I first got involved because I saw a little item in the Voice saying they need volunteers,” said Kimball. “It helped me get to know the city and the people.”
“I was new to the community and I just wanted to meet people,” said Oliver, who started out doing odd jobs at the festival. “I not only met people but it was a lot of fun working in the festival.”
Officials expect the 2013 TPFF to be held as usual in early September at the Takoma Park Middle School.
People who wish to attend the Feb 20 Launch Party should RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org.
The available volunteer leadership positions are: festival director, publicity ccoordinator, volunteer coordinator, hospitality coordinator, and signage coordinator. Many other types of volunteers are needed, too.