Behind the scenes
Dublin Irish Festival relies heavily on its volunteers
About 1,300 volunteers will give 12,000 hours of work to the Dublin Irish Festival this year.
As integral as volunteers are to the three-day festival that celebrate Irish culture, to some the time spent serving is equally as important.
Rachel Innes started volunteering at age 18 and has been volunteering for almost 10 years.
"I do it because our family loves the Irish festival. I go to it all the time," she said.
"I'd rather be involved than do nothing there. The people I work with are special, and it's so much fun."
Twin brother Matt Innes has been volunteering at the festival since age 14 and has done numerous jobs around the event.
Along with working the beverage golf carts, Matt Innes has helped check up on vendors and has managed golf cart transportation for entertainers for the past four years.
"It's just great -- the people you get to be involved with," he said. "Even when it's 100 degrees, we're still having fun."
Rachel Innes also has had her share of jobs at the festival, working at volunteer headquarters, the admission gate and most recently on the volunteer committee.
"There are few areas at the festival volunteers don't have something to do with it," said Dublin Volunteer Resources Administrator Christine Nardecchia.
"There is a leadership committee that works year-round with staff, and that begins the Monday after last year's festival," Nardecchia said.
"When the festival gets closer, they're helping set up for the 5K, helping with table coverings, and we even have teams that come out for setup Saturday and Sunday morning. ... You don't always see volunteers that serve the festival. The impact they have on this event is simply extraordinary."
Some volunteers even come from other states to volunteer, Nardecchia said, including three from Canada this year.
"We have a retention rate of 78 percent," she said, noting that they take great care to place volunteers in jobs that utilize their skills and interests.
"Once you do it, there's an addictive quality when you volunteer," Nardecchia said.
"You like to know, see and feel that you've made an impact when you do a shift of service at the festival. You get to know you're making a difference."
Matt and Rachel Innes are two of the many volunteers "addicted" to serving.
"You get to see a part of the city you don't normally see," Rachel Innes said. "I don't see stopping anytime soon."
"It's amazing how the festival wouldn't happen without the volunteers," Matt Innes said.
Nardecchia said the Innes siblings are the kind of volunteers who help the Irish Festival run and make volunteering enjoyable.
"Matt and Rachel are the perfect examples of citizens that have pride that this is our community festival that we host," she said.
The Dublin Irish Festival is slated to run in Coffman Park Aug. 3-5. For more information about the event or to volunteer, look online at dublinirish festival.org..