As the sun breaks through the gray clouds, groggy festival goers slowly begin emerging from their tents, coaxed awake by the noon-time aroma of smoke and greasy pizza. Among the growing throng are MTSU students clad in yellow “VOLUNTEER” shirts, the sleeves removed to accommodate for the temperature.
The weekend of August 29th, MTSU’s professional Mass Communications fraternity, Omega Delta Psi, camped out at the Junebug Boogie Ranch in Cookeville, Tennessee for the 5th annual Muddy Roots Music Festival. The 11 students bunkered down in cabins on the ranch property, dining on “hobo” meals between sets and learning what it’s like to work with professional musicians.
“The camping was a whole new experience” said ODP’s Vice President of Music Business Ashley King. “I’m not much of a camper, so I’m not used to the whole outdoors situation with portable toilets and communal showers.”
The group acclimated quickly and readily jumped into the festival rhythm. As volunteers, they were responsible for two of the three stages on the grounds. The group juggled various duties such as the load-in and load-out of band gear, retrieving necessary equipment and supplies, and keeping designated areas clear of people.
“My favorite job on the site was assisting the bands coming in with load-in and load-out,” King said. “We were able to meet some really cool and talented musicians and we had the best view in the house.”
In addition to running errands, setting up equipment and taking care of everyone else, the ODP memebers had the additional task of figuring out how to feed themselves. The first night the group opted to make “hobo meals” for dinner—baked potatoes topped with the consumer’s choice of meats, vegetables and cheeses.
“What we did was wrap the raw potatoes and toppings up in an aluminum foil ball and placed them on top of heated ashes,” explained King. “It took so long, and even after an hour the potatoes still weren’t cooked, so we all just ended up eating raw potatoes with semi cooked meat.”
Volunteering at the festival proved to be beneficial for the participating ODP members in more ways than one. It provided them with true hands-on experience and granted the students an opportunity to leave with better grasp of what potential future occupations may demand of them. Additionally, the participants were exposed to the unique enviornment created at music festivals, learning that there are a wide array of scenarios they need to be prepared to work in.
“I learned what running festival stages is like and how to handle and manage a ton of work in such little time,” said King. “Also, as a new executive in the organization, I learned how to adjust to a crazy situation and manage my volunteers.”
The opportunity to work at the festival arose when the previous ODP Vice President of Music Business, Katie Karrle, met Jason Galaz at the Folk Alliance Conference held in Kansas City last February. Galaz is the founder of Muddy Roots Records for whom the festival is named. King was put into contact with Galaz, and the partnership was formed. This was ODP’s first time working Muddy Roots, but the group hopes to continue their involvement for years to come.
“The last show of Friday night was The Monsters, and the sound engineers appreciated our help so much that they let us stand in the back of the stage,” said King. “Then they let us on the front of the stage during a crazy song, and two of my volunteers stage dove into the crowd!”
King continues, “The bonding time I had with my ODP brothers and sisters is something I’ll cherish forever.”
The bands were very appreciative of the volunteers. In fact, some artists took time out of their sets to recognize “the kids in the yellow shirts” and complemented them on their hard work and pleasant demeanors.
“When opportunities such as these come about, we try our best to be involved in the best way possible,” said King. “We are always looking out for awesome volunteering opportunities for our members, and we love to be of service to other people in the music industry.”
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