by Kirby Lindsay
Moisture Festival, the one-of-a-kind Comedy/Varietè extravaganza born in Fremont, generally leaves attendees reeling in wonder. Jugglers, aerialists, bubble-blowers, contortionists, singers, magicians, musicians, clowns, and several indefinable ‘whatevers’ (not to mention dancers, strippers, comedians, etc. in the burlesque shows) come together each spring for this amazing vaudevillian showcase.
According to a Festival Founder, and its Development Director, Ron Bailey, but for the hundreds of volunteers that work together the show would not go on. “The thing that is really blowing my mind is how it is all volunteers,” he stated, “the whole thing would not work if you had to pay everyone.”
Veterans To Novices
Tom Bennett attended the Festival in its first year – in 2004 under the Big Top on a U-Park lot in Fremont – and he’s volunteered every year since. (According to Peter Glick, of Roxy’s Diner, he also provided invaluable help last year feeding the volunteers.) Bennett values the mentoring he’s gained from Bailey who, according to Bennett, “has this infectious way of making this magic happen.” He also values what the Festival has to offer. “This style of entertainment is very important,” he explained. The last Great Depression had vaudeville, and the Festival has, “a spirit that I really want to be part of.” As he stated, “I want to make sure this style of entertainment continues.
Cathy Larson admitted she not only had never before volunteered for Moisture Festival, she hadn’t volunteered much before at all. As she filled out her requests for shifts (volunteers see the shows they ‘work’), she explained, “I came to Moisture Festival two years ago, and I just thought I want to be part of this.” Larson does have a tendency that is particularly Moisture-esque, “I enjoy dressing up,” she admitted, “just get dressed up and be silly with it.”
Jack House first found the Moisture Festival through a website asking for volunteers. He already had volunteered at ACT (one Festival venue) and altruistic reasons partially lead him to volunteer, including “giving back to the community.” He also likes to put his free time to constructive use, and get in for free. “It’s a way to see people display these talents,” House explained, “people who do crazy things.” He’s worked 3 or 4 years for Moisture, as security, ticket booth and general schlepper – along with helping paint the ticket booth. “My favorite,” he acknowledged, “was security. Best seat in the house!”
Never Been To Never Missed
Sulaiman Fulton never before has volunteered for the Festival – and he’s never before seen it. His girlfriend, a vaudevillian, brought him along and, according to him, he’s most willing! He’s loved learning about the growing vaudeville community. “It’s still kind of underground,” he mused, but “it’s wonderful! It’s a lot of fun.” Fulton likes the “new feeling” of it all, and the welcoming attitude he’s encountered. “Everyone is understanding,” he stated, and “urges you to express yourself more.”
Nathan Arnold will volunteer this year, since he won’t be performing. “I’m not a big enough drip to precipitate this year,” he explained. Arnold stated that he doesn’t currently have an act professional, or polished, enough to go on stage with other Festival performers. As to why he continues to participate, he explained, “I’ve been part of this whole Fremont Arts Council community,” where several Festival producers met, “for 15 years, and I just like being around my friends.”
For those without friends among the Festival crew, yet, the Festival atmosphere has proven most conducive for creating them. To volunteer, contact Shanika Davis, Volunteer Coordinator, about shifts and shows still available. Still not convinced? Go to the Moisture Festival website to buy tickets and find out what the fuss is all about.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.