Smile Politely

The Chambana Volunteer Aug 4-10

For this week’s article, I am spotlighting a volunteer. This will be a new feature that will occur occasionally in the Chambana Volunteer. This month’s Spotlight on a Volunteer is dedicated to festival volunteers. With Lollapalooza’s twentieth anniversary coming up, I have asked a friend from Chicago, who has helped out both at Lolla and Pitchfork for the past two years, to share her experience.

Please feel free to comment if you’ve worked any festivals, local or otherwise. Also, if you are a volunteer or know a volunteer who would like to be featured in the next article, then please email me.  Thanks!  –MER

Spotlight on a Volunteer:  Erin Wethern, 25, Logan Square, Chicago, IL

What types of volunteering do you currently do, or have done in the past year?

I volunteer with CHIRP, the Chicago Indie Radio Project. We run an internet radio station. You can listen at I am a part of the promotions department. I also volunteer with Illinois Choice Action Team (ICAT), Illinois’ NARAL affiliate.  

What has been your favorite volunteering experience?

I’ve volunteered at Pitchfork for the past three years with ICAT, and collectively that has probably been my favorite. It’s a great time- we basically just set up a table, give out condoms, and educate people about what we do and why it’s important to protect our reproductive freedoms. Giving away free condoms provides some really amazing people watching, but it’s also great to see how many people are supportive of the cause and want to get involved. 

You have also volunteered “behind the scenes” for Lollapalooza the past 2 years.  Can you describe some of the daily duties you had while volunteering at Lolla?

The first two years I volunteered at Lolla, I was at their volunteer headquarters. Essentially when volunteers came to start their shift, I would help them fill out their paperwork, get them set up with a wrist band and tee shirt, and make sure they knew where they were going. 

What has been your favorite part about volunteering at Lollapalooza?

Volunteering at Lolla gives you a unique look at the inner workings of the festival, and I think it’s fun to take a more active role in it. Last year I spent a few hours on “security detail” checking people in at a main gate, and it was pretty hilarious to watch people try to argue their way in. I made friends with the actual security guards, and they gave me pizza and water. 

What is the craziest thing you have seen while volunteering at Lolla?

As far as music goes, Snoop Dogg was pretty boss. In terms of people watching, last year we saw a man get completely naked and lay down in the grass. It was kind of scary, but crazy for sure. 

How would one get involved with volunteering for such an event?

Check the event’s web page a few months in advance to see if they accept volunteers, and what the process is. If there is an application, fill it out as soon as possible and make sure it’s complete. 

Any advice to future festival volunteers?

Stay hydrated! Take a water bottle to fill up. And just try to be as open as possible to the experience- try to meet as many fellow volunteers as you can. Have fun, and enjoy the ride! 


Some festivals (local and around the state) that you can volunteer for:

2012 Lollapalooza:  Registration is now closed, but try back in the spring to volunteer. Volunteers must fill out an application and pay a $10 nonrefundable fee. Hiring of volunteers will be completed by early July 2012. 

2012 Pitchfork:  Pitchfork not only seeks volunteers, but non-profit organizations to have booths at the event. All those interested must email [email protected].

2012 Summer Camp:  Volunteers must work three 5-hour shifts in exchange for a ticket to Camp. Registration is now closed but will reopen next spring. Volunteers must complete an application and purchase a deposit ticket first before being notified of acceptance. All questions may be directed to [email protected]

Fluid Events-Blues, Brews, & BBQ Fest, Champaign Champagne Fest: Volunteers can choose from a list of positions available and fill out a volunteer application before being contacted. For more info call 217-359-6960 or email [email protected].

2011 Sweetcorn Festival: Volunteers are needed to work the Pepsi and beer stands, as well as run ice. For more information, go to 

Champaign Park District Events, (Taste of CU, etc.):  Visit for information on how to volunteer for Park District special events and to fill out a volunteer application, or email [email protected] for more info. Al list of upcoming events is available at:

2012 Ebertfest: Volunteer dates/times are flexible. Please contact Mary Susan Britt [email protected] to volunteer.


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