Dublin Villager

Dublin Irish Festival

Long hours don't scare off youth volunteers

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This weekend about 1,300 volunteers will help the Dublin Irish Festival roll through its three day engagement at Coffman Park.

Each year more than 1,000 volunteers work in 60 different areas with jobs ranging from set up and tear down to serving food in the hospitality area and working the admission gates.

Joe Myers has been volunteering at the Dublin Irish Festival since age 9, which is not a usual practice.

"I started working with my mom in the Wee Folk area," he said.

After that, Myers has returned to help out and even snagged the 2012 Youth Best of the Fest Award, handed out to the top volunteers.

"I've always been kind of big with volunteer work in general," Myers said. "It's a great way to give back to your city. You have a fun time with all the people you work with."

Elizabeth Zimmerman, who also won the 2012 Best of the Fest Award, got involved with her mom in 2007.

"I've always loved going to the Irish festival. I thought it would be cool to get involved with it some way," she said.

"The opportunity came up to my mom originally and she asked if I'd be interested. It's been awesome doing it every year."

Zimmerman works at the beverage center headquarters each year and ends up volunteering each day. She does find some time to check out the festival, though.

"We do a lot of volunteering, but my mom and I always try to get out a couple times a day to see bands, meet up with friends and maybe eat a piece of chocolate-covered cheesecake," she said.

"As a teen a lot of teens go to the Irish Festival, so it's nice to catch up with friends."

A junior at Bishop Waterson High School, Myers' volunteering at the Dublin Irish Festival starts Thursday and runs through the weekend.

"I work the whole weekend," he said. "It's only about 50 hours. I'm there on Thursday before the festival starts setting up as well."

Myers has done a few different jobs as a festival volunteer and now at 16 sits on the beverage distribution committee.

"I've been working with beverage distribution for a couple of years," he said.

"Last year I worked on the logistics side. I worked with a radio and sent out teams. ... A lot of time I ride around with the new drivers who may not know the festival well and give them a feel of where to go."

With a long weekend spent volunteering, Myers gets little time to take in Irish festivities.

"I'm literally volunteering the whole weekend from dawn till dusk every day," he said.

"When I do get a rare break I like to get around and see a band on stage," he said.

Zimmerman graduated from Wellington School a few months ago and will soon head to college, but she hopes to return to the volunteer at the festival.

"I want to try to volunteer with the Irish Festival, but I am applying for a staff position at the Appalachian Service Project and that's 11 weeks," she said. "But if I can, I want to come back to volunteer."

The Dublin Irish Festival runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4 in Coffman Park.

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