It was 13 years ago that Audrey Baker became acquainted with the Penticton Peach Festival.
“I loved it from the moment I started. I volunteered to meet new people in the community and had such a great time, I have come back every year since,” she said.
In fact, it has come full circle for her. Now in her second year as the director of volunteers on the Peach Festival board, she is helping others get involved in one of the biggest free festivals in Western Canada.
“It’s so much fun to be a part of something so big and so prominent in the city. You definitely are an ambassador for the festival when you put on that volunteer T-shirt, and in a way the whole city,” said Baker. “You are immersed in it the moment you get that shirt. You meet people from all over the U.S., Canada and the world and you get to introduce them to our city and our great hospitality.”
Peach Festival is celebrating its 70th year with lineup of talent that will play on the Peters Bros. stage, participate in the parade, Kiddies Day, Seniors Day, PenTown Throwdown, Mega Motocross and those ready to show off their creativity in the Sandcastle Competition. It takes an army of people to make sure it all comes together, and Baker is looking for more volunteers.
“What I am hoping for is if we could get groups to come forward and work an event together. So they could come out and do the sandcastle event for two hours or maybe help out on Kiddies Day for a few hours,” said Baker. “Whether you want to work as an individual, a couple, have a few friends that would like to volunteer their time together at the same event or a whole group — it is such a fulfilling experience.”
Interested volunteers can visit www.peachfest.com/peachfest-volunteers and make sure they completely fill out the lines on the registration form and they will be contacted. Or they can call Baker at 250-809-6468.
Peach Festival is looking for people to volunteer for all kinds of different shifts and jobs. Shifts can be two to six hours and could involve a number of positions including manning barricades — to make sure traffic gets to the right places — park cleanup, utilizing the fire hoses at the sandcastle contest, stage helpers or assisting with Kiddies Day.
“Some people say ‘well, I would like to enjoy the festival and not volunteer at it.’ However, I think you get to see more being a volunteer, because you are right in the middle of it. As well, seeing all those people on the parade sidelines or in the park enjoying themselves is just such a great feeling.”
As for those T-shirts that make you part of the Peach Festival family, those are something that Baker has gained some fame from.
“Oh, yes. I have created a bit of a fashion statement of my own. I like to cut up the sleeves to have fringes, sometimes I put beads on them. And, the people that come back to Peach Festival every year recognize me for that. People always ask what I am going to do the next year to top it.”