2018-08-19 / Insight

BEHIND THE SCENES AT LAPEER DAYS

Nearly 200 volunteers credited with making Lapeer Day work
BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — Lapeer Days is in full swing, and as vendors peddle their wares, bands plug in before their sets and special events line the downtown Lapeer area, visitors and residents alike are able to enjoy the festivities thanks in large part to volunteers.

Each year, a small army of dedicated volunteers — this year close to 200 — do everything to ensure the largest free festival in Michigan remains one of the premier summer events in the region.

“They’ve been busy,” said Lapeer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Neda Paine. According to Paine, volunteer workers have been toiling since Thursday, working on behalf of committees concerned with vendor areas, electrical, logistics, special events and hospitality. “Some of the people on the committees have been volunteering for over 20 years,” said Paine.

Each day of Lapeer Days, volunteers arrive around 8 a.m. On Thursday, the labor associated with the setup of the festival takes them well past 10 p.m. And that’s the easy day, said Paine. “On Friday and Saturday, we’ll get here at 8 a.m. and be here until at least 1 a.m.,” she said. “We’ll go home, sleep for four hours and come back and do it all again — rain or shine, hot or cold.”

Volunteers come from all walks of life, said Paine. Some, students looking for service hours to complete National Honor Society requirements. Others, people seeking to fulfill community service hours.

Another large contingent of volunteers, said Paine, is a family tradition. “We’ve got multiple generations of volunteers,” she said. “Some of the volunteers have worked so long that now their kids are helping out. It’s kind of a family thing.”

While other community events have seen a decline of volunteers as years go by, Paine said she’s confident that Lapeer Days will always attract the volunteers it needs to ensure the festival goes off without a hitch. “We have different people that come from year to year but the base of our volunteer group is pretty much the same,” she said. “Each group has their particular area they work in, but there’s always overlap.”

One of the reasons such a large group of volunteers have become so engrained into the identity of the festival itself is because, according to Paine, they’re treated like family. “We try to take good care of the volunteers,” she said. “They’re appreciated. It’s a lot of hard work, but we have a lot of fun — we make it all happen.”

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