Making it happen: The Volunteer

"It gets hectic. It's all part of the appeal."
"It gets hectic. It's all part of the appeal."

A lot of talented people are pulling together for the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival - from the ground up. Denise Irvine meets five of them.

This is the final story we will bring this week to celebrate this year's Gardens Arts Festival.

Ric Grocott is a Hamilton IT consultant, a paddler with the Waikato Dragon Boat & Waka Ama Association, and during the festival he helps marshal the orange T-shirt brigade, who tell you where to park your car and other important stuff.

"We took this on as a fundraiser for the [Dragon Boat & Waka Ama] Association. It's a serious effort, and it has proved to be great fun. This is our fourth year. There are about 30 of us in the group, but we bring in others. We need about 70 or so people for rosters over the fortnight.

We do a lot of hours and it has been a major fund-raiser. Last year we got just under $10,000 [from the festival trust]. We just go for it and it is a good team-building exercise as well.

A big chunk of what we do is make sure people park their cars right. We're also setting up individual gardens with chairs, checking tickets, putting out signs, answering questions.

On big nights, we fill up all the grass area with parking [off Hungerford Cres]. It gets hectic. It's all part of the appeal, though. You don't end up parking cars every day. You also get to play with walkie-talkies, and you get to know each other better during an 8-hour shift. It is an opportunity for the club's diverse membership to come together.

We've had the odd angry outburst [from festival-goers] but that was ages ago and we've got it sussed now. One time we caught someone breaking into cars and called security.

On big nights, it has taken an hour to clear the main carpark, but people are patient. I'm astonished at how generous they are.

We always have a good debriefing after the festival. Parking is always the biggest thing. Timing is critical around closing the main carpark when it gets full and opening the Governors' Lawn park off the other entrance. We've got good processes for this now.

It takes about a month to organise ourselves for this. We have day sheets, so that when we get to the gardens, we know who/where/when, and phone numbers for everyone.

You get to see some shows, particularly if you're the ticket-taker. This year, I'm definitely going to get to see the Rocky Horror movie. I might wear more than my orange T-shirt, maybe some fishnets as well. A lot of us usually want to be here for the closing night comedy show - you'd be astonished how many it takes to look after that."