by Kirby Lindsay, posted 14 September 2012
The Fremont Oktoberfest takes place Friday, September 21st, Saturday, September 22nd, and Sunday, September 23rd. This festival of beer, and Fall, offers a wide assortment of activities, entertainment and, of course, beer.
To pour the beer – plus work the entrance, supervise the kids’ area, distribute promotional materials, monitor the 5K race, sell food, hawk merchandise, etc. – takes volunteers. To adequately operate Oktoberfest requires over 1,000 volunteers.
As of September 8th, approximately 70 shifts still needed sign-ups. That number may sound insignificant (that does mean over 900 people had already signed-up,) but anything short of a full staff limits how many attendees can enter the beer garden, and maximizes how frustrated those attendees will get as they wait in long lines for beer.
Volunteers Have Their Reasons
For the fourth year, Bill Wagner plans to sign-up for Fremont Oktoberfest. “I volunteer mostly to help out Jessica [Vets] and the Fremont Chamber,” he explained, “the Chamber does a lot of work for Fremont, which is a really great neighborhood.” He appreciates how the festival – with his aid – will benefit the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, but Wagner also acknowledged, “I really like beer.” The free admission to Oktoberfest that he earns as a volunteer, “does help,” he said, in convincing him to come back each year.
“It is the best people watching,” explained George Ptasinski, another repeat volunteer, “the other people you volunteer with are a lot of fun.” Ptasinski enjoys the social aspects – chatting with other volunteers and attendees – but he’s also about the wider benefit. “It’s a fundraiser,” he said, “and puts something back into the community.”
Ptasinski volunteers regularly for Bold Hat Productions, the organizers of Oktoberfest, as well as volunteering at the University District Food Bank and the Center for Wooden Boats. He feels strongly about the importance of sharing with the community through volunteerism. Yet, when asked how he got involved with Oktoberfest, he admitted, “I did it to meet people.”
Volunteers Have Their Support
Wagner and Ptasinski volunteer directly with Bold Hat through Shiftboard, an on-line sign up for shifts. So does Jeannette Roden, although she also registers to do another shift through One Brick – a non-profit volunteer registry. One Brick works with other non-profits scheduling volunteers to staff events and activities. The organization maintains a calendar list of events, and their volunteers can volunteer at one – or all.
“This will be the eleventh time,” that One Brick has scheduled volunteers for a Bold Hat event. Bold Hat also organizes Hop Scotch, the Fremont Fair, and Kirkland Uncorked, and One Brick has had people at each one since 2010. For the 2012 Oktoberfest, a squad of 22 One Brick volunteers will show up to pour beer and provide other support.
“We find people like the social aspects,” explained Roden, in her role as the One Bridge Seattle Chapter Director. Ultimately though, she observed, “our volunteers have a lot of different reasons,” why they choose to help at this festival, or that food bank.
Roden will work alongside the One Brick volunteers, but she will also volunteer for a shift directly through Bold Hat. “As a coordinator,” she explained, “I like to try it out ahead of time, and get the lay of the land.” She likes to be prepared, but Roden expressed great faith that Oktoberfest will provide the volunteers with a positive experience. “I do like the Bold Hat events,” she acknowledged, “I think they are well run, and you know what you are supposed to be doing.”
Volunteers Have Their Benefits
Besides building great karma, volunteering for Oktoberfest does earn actual benefits – like a free t-shirt. “It helps me with my work wardrobe,” Wagner joked.
Seriously though, he will use the free admission he earns. He usually volunteers on Saturday night (the hardest shift to staff) with his friends, and then attends on Sunday with the same group when, he noted, “it’s nowhere near as crowded.”
Sunday, and Friday afternoon, draw a calmer crowd – and more of the real beer connoisseurs, like Wagner. He appreciates the shorter lines, and the more mature environment. It gives him time to read information provided by the 40+ breweries at Oktoberfest, and to talk to the people pouring.
When he volunteers, Wagner explained, “usually I pour.” However, he encouraged newbies to try out other tasks to see what they like best – and he likes to pour, “and I don’t want the competition,” he observed.
With over 80 microbrews and German beers on tap, being distributed as 5 oz. tastes at each pour, the need for pourers (who must be 21+) is high. However, volunteers are needed for a wide-variety of activities within the festival.
Consider signing up today to volunteer for the Fremont Oktoberfest – support the work of the Fremont Chamber (and its community grant program,) be social, and build goodwill. Plus, earn free admission to the event after seeing it from behind the scenes. “There’s not much to the ‘behind-the-scenes,’” according to Ptasinski, but, “when the staff are meeting you personally,” as you stroll the beer garden after a shift, “it gives you a little cache.”
Sign up at ShiftBoard. If you have problems with ShiftBoard, or questions about volunteering, contact the Chamber Executive Director, Jessica Vets, and let her know you are ready to give – for your community…and for the beer.
- Oktoberfest Volunteerism
- by Kirby Lindsay, September 11, 2009
- Fremont Oktoberfest Celebrates 200 Years Of Tradition (In Munich)
- by Kirby Lindsay, September 15, 2010
- You Did What?!? or, Oktoberfest, A Background
- by Kirby Lindsay, September 23, 1999 in The Seattle Press
©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.