From your very first festival experience, you will quickly realize that the festival-goers are the festival. This fact proves itself most true when participating in a work exchange program.
Work exchange means that you offer your time before, during, or after a festival in exchange for a ticket/wristband. Being able to see behind the scenes and how the magic is built is a huge piece of what has made me feel so connected to the festival community over the years. Let me tell you how!
The first time I participated in a work exchange program was at Lightning in a Bottle in 2017. The grounds where they were building the festival were only a 45 minute drive from where I was living at the time, so I signed up to work in the commissary to feed those building the festival in the months prior.
I expected to show up and work. I didn’t expect to show up and find myself fully immersed in what it meant to create something special for thousands of people. Over the next month and a half, I worked five 6-hour shifts and spent my Saturdays cooking, eating, making friends, and laughing from morning until evening.
When the time came to finally attend Lightning in a Bottle, I remember sneaking off from time to time to meet up with my new family in the commissary. Between enjoying home cooked meals to sleeping in a friend’s air conditioned tent when it was too hot for comfort, the perks of being a part of that group just kept coming.
One night, we even all met in the commissary to have some drinks before going together to watch the headliner at the main stage. I can honestly say those memories are some of the best memories I have at a festival—and they all happened within the cozy blanket that is work exchange.
The second time I did work exchange at a festival was at Dirtybird.
I was stationed with the Lost & Found department for this event and it was beyond fun and so rewarding. You wouldn’t believe the things people lose or turn in! It was so cool shadowing the Volunteer Coordinator and seeing firsthand what it meant to run a festival behind the scenes. Barriers are broken in this way. Working alongside those who have been doing this for years as well as others who are equally wide-eyed and fresh to work exchange.
Out in the real world, I write for a living. So it wasn’t too far-fetched for me to join the Lucidity Work Exchange program as a blog writer this year. Over the past few months, I’ve loved being able to consider the things that make music festivals special to me, and share them with the world. Being able to tap into my creativity and passion to talk about something I love (festivals) in order to do something I love (go to a festival!) just made way too much sense.
I’m so excited to join the rest of the blog writers and Dream Maker Team at Lucidity and feel that deep sense of community again, knowing that we built all this together.
Attending a festival is amazing, but knowing that you helped create the experience for others is absolutely remarkable. So next time you get the festival itch, make an effort to see how you can contribute. You might be surprised by the good things that come your way because of it!