Festival group to hit phones for volunteers

Organizers will be hitting the phones this week as they try to secure enough volunteers to ensure the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts continues in 2003.
“At this point, the festival will probably go. I am 90 to 98 percent sure it will go,” John Jankiewicz, president of the Rainy River District Music Festival Association, said Tuesday.
As reported in last week’s Times, festival organizers were concerned they would not be able to hold the annual arts showcase next April due to a lack of volunteers.
Jankiewicz said he has received a few phone calls from people in the past week offering to help with the final preparations for the event, but said he needed more people to sit on the committee and assist with the year-round planning.
The group also had support at its monthly meeting Monday night, but not enough to fill the current volunteer void or address shortages down the road.
“We have two people on the committee who are completely burnt out,” Jankiewicz said. “Both people have lots and lots of commitments and they do a lot to keep the festival going.”
For instance, long-time committee member Garry Wilde has stated he doesn’t plan on being involved in the festival indefinitely.
“We are partly worried about this year, but also two or three years down the road when he decides to get out of this,” Jankiewicz said.
“He handles all of our rules, is always opening and closing churches, and photocopies everything for us,” he noted. “It takes up a lot of his time throughout the year and it would be nice if someone came along and helped spare him.”
The next step for committee members is to start calling people in the community to ask for help, as was suggested by someone who turned out for Monday’s meeting.
“If someone gives you a call to come out and help, please be willing to give us a hand,” Jankiewicz urged.
Organizers also have been exploring other options, such as scaling back the festival, in order to keep it going. “It is in the back of my mind but it is a decision the committee has to make,” Jankiewicz said.
The association did just that back in the 1960s, he noted, holding a music festival one year and a drama festival the next. But he added that decision likely was made because of a shortage of entries, not volunteers.
“There is no lack of entries this year. Actually, the numbers of people entering the festival are pretty well at record levels,” Jankiewicz remarked.
Another issue organizers face is trying to hire adjudicators. Currently, they are looking for a vocal and instrumental music judge but since next year’s festival is slated to coincide with spring break in Winnipeg, they are having trouble finding appropriate candidates.
“We may have to look for them down east,” Jankiewicz said. But if that happens, costs will rise dramatically given the extensive travel involved for adjudicators.
Jankiewicz said the next month will be critical and that the committee will know for sure if the festival is set to go at its monthly meeting Nov. 4.
Until then, he remained optimistic there would be enough local support to keep the popular arts event going for another year.