Roots N Blues N BBQ celebrated its eleventh anniversary last weekend with headliners like John Prine and Ryan Adams. But the festival wasn’t just about music.
At this year’s festival, more than 30 different vendors set up shop to sell everything from Midwestern barbecue to handmade jewelry. And countless volunteers and staff members worked behind the scenes to make it happen.
Taylor Coleman was one of those people. She was the craft vendor coordinator this year. Some of the vendors traveled hundreds of miles from other states to sell their merchandise or services at the festival, and it was Coleman’s job to help the vendors in any way she could.
“Beginning of the day is just making sure that I get people in here,” Coleman said.
“They can have a car in this other lot up here so if they need to go up there throughout the day they can walk, but I try to provide them with a golf cart ride.”
This was only her second year volunteering at the festival, but she was already given a larger role than the previous year.
“And so once the majority of the morning and early afternoon is over and everyone is here and going, I just hang around and run errands for other people if they need it and then just check in on them every now and then and be available if they need me,” Coleman said.
A lot of Coleman’s job was done before the festival even began, in the weeks and months leading up to the big weekend. She was charged with choosing a location for each craft vendor’s tent, which can be a challenging part of the job.
“We only have so much room. And it seems like we have this massive park where we can just throw everybody wherever and fill up the whole thing, but we have to try to make sure that there's enough room for people,” Coleman said.
“A lot of the vendors get upset because they feel that there's a more prime spot for them, which there's that one very good favorite spot that everybody wishes they could be.”
Coleman used her radio to respond to an almost constant stream of requests from other volunteers asking for favors or asking where the golf cart was located. She was almost always the first to respond with helpful answers.
She was busy working for most of the festival so she didn’t have much time to enjoy the music, but she did manage to find time in her day to try out different services and merchandise from the vendors she worked with.
“This has been a really big crazy experience, but it's been great,” Coleman said. “And you know if you're going to get into something just hop in when it's wild and you'll figure you're way out.”
This episode was produced by Erin McKinstry. Music for this week's episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions (Tuck and Point, available under CC BY-NC 4.0).