It can be dirty, but also 'experience of a lifetime' for volunteers at Cavendish Beach Music Festival

Hundreds of volunteers, some fundraising for local community organizations and initiatives, take part in the Cavendish Beach Music Festival experience and the impacts can last long after the four day event in P.E.I.

'There is a lot to see and a lot to do and you just get to help people enjoy their experience here'

A group of parents fundraising for the girls U16 eastern P.E.I. softball team are going through all the garbage bags to separate the bottles, cans and recyclables. (John Robertson/CBC)

Tucked away behind the main stage at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival is a group of volunteers working on an obvious by-product of the four day event. They are sorting through the bags of garbage to pull out cans, bottles and recycled materials.

"We see quite a bit of things and it is not always pretty, so it is a dirty job but like they say, somebody has got to do it and we have chosen to do it," said Jennifer Bulger, team manager of the under-16 girls eastern softball team on P.E.I. 

"We are fundraising to help with the expenses for the U16 [team] going to the Eastern Canadians that is in August, so parents are working hard to get the kids to the sports they love to do," Bulger said. 

She and her crew of parents are just some of the hundreds of volunteers working at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF).

Some are volunteering their time for the opportunity to be at the event while others are receiving money for their volunteer or not-for-profit organization.

Hundreds of volunteers help out in different aspects each year at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. (John Robertson/CBC)

"This event has helped contribute to our volunteer organizations in the community over $1.8 million over the 10 years and that number is growing," said Jeff Squires, president and CEO of Whitecap Entertainment.

"Whether it is using recyclables or trading off labour hours for people to raise money for their ball teams or their basketball teams or the 50/50, which goes back into minor hockey or arenas across the province."

Squires said the summer festival can impact organizations and groups for the other 12 months of the year.

The Cavendish Beach Music Festival draws tens of thousands of concert goers to the event each year on P.E.I. (John Robertson/CBC)

"This is our first year being involved and we had to fill 170 shifts to make sure that we were doing it justice," said Phil Bridges, the co-ordinator for the festival's 50/50 to help raise money for the Plex at Slemon Park and Camp Triumph.

"We have had people do it the first day and say 'Phil, if you need me tomorrow or Sunday or if you are doing this again next year, sign me up, we will be back'. They love it and it is such a great event to be part of."

Phil Bridges is helping to co-ordinate the volunteers working the 50/50 sales as a fundraiser for the Plex at Slemon Park and Camp Triumph. (John Robertson/CBC)

The welcome tent is also full of volunteers.

"I volunteer here because atmosphere is absolutely amazing," said Tahnee O'Meara, who started in the first year of the festival. "I love to be here all day long and take it all in because there is a lot to see and a lot to do and you just get to help people enjoy their experience here."

Judy Bryanton (right) has been volunteering with CBMF for 9 years and Tahnee O'Meara has been volunteering since the festival's beginning. (John Robertson/CBC)

O'Meara likes to work the day shift so that she can enjoy the evening concerts. Volunteer Judy Bryanton, who has volunteered at CBMF since 2010, likes to do the opposite and be a helping hand when the festival is the busiest.

"I normally do the evening shift because I like ending the night with it," Bryanton said. "It is an experience of a lifetime and it's something that I feel that everyone should, at least, experience once."

"It's just the love of the volunteering, meeting new people, hearing the music, meeting the artists, everything."

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About the Author

John Robertson

Video journalist

John Robertson is a multi-platform journalist based out of Charlottetown. He has been with CBC News for more than a decade, with stints in Nunavut, Edmonton and Prince Edward Island. Twitter @CBCJRobertson Instagram @johnrobertsoncbc