Volunteer hopes Bootfest will become tradition in Crossroads

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Oct. 2, 2013 at 5:02 a.m.

Bootfest volunteers set up a booth during the 2012 festival. The volunteers are a big part of Bootfest, said Daneille Williams, advertising and event manager at Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Bootfest volunteers set up a booth during the 2012 festival. The volunteers are a big part of Bootfest, said Daneille Williams, advertising and event manager at Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Valerie Kemp is returning to Bootfest on Friday and Saturday for more than the free music and entertainment - she's returning to help Victoria build a tradition.

The Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation corporate accountant started volunteering for the festival when it started three years ago. She worked her way up the ranks at the two-day festival starting at what might seem to be the most challenging position of them all - the kid's corral.

"It was a bit chaotic," said Kemp, 33, as images of eager kids waiting in line at bounce house or inflatable slide replayed in her mind.

This year, she's set aside time on both days to help operate one of the beer booths set up in downtown for Victoria's annual Bootfest.

"It's a good thing for the city to have, since we didn't have a festival that stayed around," she said. "I want it to keep going for Victoria."

She said she's been to other events in the area, but none have been as good as Bootfest.

The festival garners the help of more than 600 volunteers to ensure it runs smoothly, said Danielle Williams, Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau advertising and events manager. The volunteers take care of a multitude of activities ranging from watching the barricades to directing the VIP parking and checking IDs.

"We lean on them so much and really appreciate them," she said.

Other than the satisfaction of promoting Victoria, volunteers receive a Bootfest volunteer T-shirt, water and snacks and a chance to meet new people.

Plus, the volunteer work is easy, Kemp said. She hopes to do it as long as the event continues, and since she's been a volunteer each year, her friends always ask her about the festival and make sure to visit her when she's working. But it's not just about giving back to Victoria that gets Kemp to wear that neon-orange Bootfest volunteer T-shirt.

"I really love that the kids get to play for free in the kid's corral," she said.

Her 3-year-old nephew and 8-year-old niece will be at Bootfest taking in the kid's entertainment, so she plans to spend the first half of Saturday with them before she begins her shift at the beer booth. The city doesn't have a lot of events in which kids and their parents have fun together, she said, and to keep the festival going each year, she does her part to make it happen.

This year's Bootfest will include more entertainment in the kid's corral with inflatables and live shows by The Texas Zoo, Victoria Public Library and the Children's Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent, which will be open both Friday and Saturday. The Invista Classic Car Show on Saturday will showcase cars from all over the Crossroads and give them a chance to compete for bragging rights until next year's Bootfest.

After the Turnpike Troubadours play their last set Friday night, the fireworks show will begin from the top of the One O'Connor Plaza building. The recent forecast moved the fireworks show from Saturday to Friday for safety reasons, said LaRue Roth, director of Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

To keep the event manageable, she said they didn't want to add too much to the festival but did want to expand on Bootfest's daytime entertainment. She emphasized that the entertainment and music is all free but that there will be concessions sold and arts and crafts vendors selling their wares on Constitution and Bridge streets.

To keep guests comfortable, organizers have added two tents with seating and misting fans near the kid's corral and Stage 2 and extended the free shuttle service to both days.

"It's big that we've got all these people who are excited about Bootfest," she said. "When you get 500 (volunteers), that tells me that people really have embraced this festival, and they're proud of it."

This year's volunteer force includes manpower from various high school groups and help from Victoria College marketing students who will be doing a different kind of volunteer work.

Because the festival brings in so many people from the Crossroads, the students will have a chance to turn marketing theory into application.

"The students are going to use the festival as a classroom experience where they can take the classroom out into the field," Roth said.

Once the information is collected, the data will be used by Roth and her team for planning and marketing for next year's festival and other events in the city.

As long as the festival continues, Kemp said she'll volunteer. The work is really simple, she said, because it boils down to helping people and having a good time.

"I want to do anything I can to keep it going. It really benefits the city," she said. "I think it's definitely the festival for Victoria. This one is perfect. I haven't seen this many people come to Victoria in a long time."



Powered By AffectDigitalMedia