Guest post by Julie Green
A few weeks ago you may have read a blog post about the AFF junior volunteer recipient of the Gerry Turner Volunteer of the Year Award. Today let me tell you about the “Senior” Volunteer of the year. I am pleased to introduce you to Jim Boulier, winner of the 2014 Gerry Turner Award.
“When I started volunteering at the first National Folk Festival I worked carts. As each year went by I added some time in operations and other jobs; whatever needed to be done,” Jim told me. “Eventually I knew I wanted to find a way to get closer to the music, so seven years ago when I found this opportunity I grabbed it.”
Now Jim is in charge of Railroad Stage Hospitality. From the first artist on Friday until the last performance on Sunday, he works with the stage manager to make sure that artists have everything they need. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bottle of water, but, sometimes it can be far more complicated. He also oversees the VIP tent, making sure it’s well stocked and comfortable.
He also works much of the week before the festival begins on Friday evening. “My wife Brenda and I are there as much as possible,” he said. “Leading up to the event I just do whatever needs to be done, but once Friday night arrives, I stay right at the “big” stage and I am there until the last note is played on Sunday evening.”
At first he told me “I can’t really tell you why I put in so many hours every year volunteering at the festival.” But once he began to talk there was no doubt that this is one person who has a true passion for the Festival. “I really like it,” he told me last week. “It’s become a part of who I am now. I enjoy the music and the different types of music, things I never dreamed I would listen to. I find myself talking about it and promoting the event all during the year. Heck, it’s only February and already Brenda and I are planning our volunteer time before and during the festival!”
When I asked him what is the best thing about being at the festival he told me “imagine me ever meeting someone like Diunna Greenleaf, (renowned gospel & blues performer), much less hanging out with her for three days. She is so talented but at the same time so down to earth and just wonderful to work with. Last year it was Otis Clay the great R&B & Soul performer. I also spent some time with Marquise Knox the brilliant young guitar player. What an incredible talent. We got together and took pictures so we could stay in touch. It is just too cool,” Jim said.
“I can tell you that working with Heather (McCarthy, Executive Director) and her crew is a privilege. Heather is quiet and stays behind the scenes but does so much work to make it all flow together. I know she would be the first person to tell you that it’s the volunteers that make the festival work. Over the years I have met so many great people who also volunteer and we look forward to seeing them at every AFF.”
“Receiving this award is something I never thought of but it means a lot,” Jim said. “I share it with my wife Brenda, but also with the hundreds and hundreds of other volunteers. If I could send any message to people reading this blog, I would tell them to come and experience the festival for yourself. Come and feel the excitement and be part of Maine’s largest event.”
To learn more about volunteering at the American Folk Festival check out our website at www.americanfolkfestival.com.
Julie Green is the Director of Community Affairs and Student Engagement at Husson University and a volunteer at the American Folk Festival.