Mariposa Volunteers: The Reason Behind it All

Our Volunteers
Photo: Chris Mack

The glory of Mariposa Folk Festival belongs to the many volunteers who not only plan, develop, organize, and oversee the festival but serve as its source of essential spirit. This is a truth that can’t be overstated. If weren’t for the volunteers, Mariposa wouldn’t have been conceived of in the first place—and certainly wouldn’t have flourished as the major North American folk culture institution it is today.  

There’s no official count of the volunteers who’ve contributed to Mariposa’s success over its history, but that number would be impressive. For the 60th anniversary festival alone, approximately 650 volunteers are required on festival weekend, with another 50 or so organizers and key players engaged year-round, during and months leading into the festival. Just multiply those numbers to imagine how many volunteers have contributed to Mariposa Folk Festival over its 60-year history! 

The festival ethos is a direct reflection of the collective values of its volunteers.  

Our Volunteers on Call
Photo: David Hill

Not that there’s never been acrimony within the organization. Mariposa has gone through periodic rifts and schisms, but in the end its volunteers have always pulled together to do what’s best for the festival. During one tumultuous period, the board split into two camps – one side holding the view that Mariposa had no future while the other side wished to rebuild. That was in 1986. Thanks to the determination of its volunteers, Mariposa went on to celebrate many important milestones, and is now entering its seventh decade as an artistic and creative force in the North American folk music scene.

The volunteer roles at Mariposa Folk Festival range from serving on the board to any one of the many positions in the festival organization, which include some year-round, most focused around the festival weekend. 

Mariposa Folk Festival volunteers come from all walks of life and hail from across Ontario, other Canadian provinces, the United States, and sometimes abroad. There is an inner crowd of festival volunteers who have done more than 30 years of service. Many volunteers have children and grandchildren who followed in their footsteps. Volunteers have also gotten engaged and married at Mariposa, and loved ones have held celebrations of life for volunteers and loyal patrons who have passed. Every year, Mariposa Folk Festival is like a family reunion for volunteers, many of whom have forged cherished relationships.  

The Mariposa Hall of Fame recognizes extraordinary contributions made over Mariposa Folk Festival’s history— there are more volunteers than artists who comprise the 30-plus inductions to date.