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Volunteers play vital role in success of Celtic Colours

By Laura Jean Grant - The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — Janet Robinson is the kind of volunteer that organizers of the Celtic Colours International Festival have come to rely on.

She’s dependable, adaptable, has been with the festival for years, and has a volunteer philosophy that would be the envy of just about any event organizer.

“I’m representing Cape Breton and I’m representing Celtic Colours so I want to put that best face forward and if there’s a way that we can make the experience better for either the artist or the visitors or local public … that’s what we aim to do,” she said.

Robinson, a Sydney residdent, has been volunteering with Celtic Colours since 1999 after being “blown away” by the event as a fan in its inaugural two years.

“It’s a phenomena that you want to be attached to,” she said. “It’s an amazing, magical time.”

Robinson, who often takes vacation days from work to volunteer during Celtic Colours, said the music itself, and the camaraderie among festival staff, volunteers, artists and fans, are what keeps her motivated to give her time to the event year after year.

“To be able to be in a room or in a moment, that probably has never happened in the past and will never happen again, a musical experience — it’s magic, so that keeps me coming back,” she said.

As a stage and site manager, Robinson works behind the scenes at shows and has learned a lot about the technical side of music as a result. She’s also enjoyed learning more about her own island by working shows in communities like Judique, Cheticamp and Arichat, and getting to know people in those areas. This year, Robinson will be doing stage and site management again, and is also breaking into a new area by handling some master of ceremony duties.

It’s a busy nine days but Robinson said she enjoys every minute of it and feels appreciated, noting there’s a special reception each year for volunteers, some of whom are earning their 15-year pins this year.

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