For Baton Rouge Blues Festival Volunteers, There’s Reward Beyond the Music

Without a small army of volunteers like Chris and Ursula Bethmann, there would be no Baton Rouge Blues Festival.

Now in their third year of supporting the festival, the Bethmanns love to give back to their community – and they love the blues. That makes volunteering with the Baton Rouge Blues Festival the best of both worlds.

“My husband and I have always done some sort of volunteer work – whether with the kids’ school, our church, our neighborhood or with our jobs,” says Ursula, formerly of Aiken, S.C. “When I saw that the festival was looking for volunteers, I thought it would be a good way to learn and experience the local culture with its rich music history while giving back to the community that we moved to.”

The event itself – slated for April 8-9, 2017 in downtown Baton Rouge – is overseen by the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, and organized by a 21-member committee led by festival director Chris Brooks. They’re all volunteers, too. That keeps costs down for a growing festival that remains free of charge.

The Bethmanns have had an insider’s view as that stirring success story unfolded. Along the way, they discovered that the Baton Rouge Blues Festival did more than provide a broader context for understanding the area. Ursula has also been impressed with the sense of community that the festival provides, describing it as a unifying cultural force.

“We love people, we love learning about different cultures – and Baton Rouge, for sure, has a unique culture full of music and food,” Ursula says.

When all the hard work is gone, there’s usually a chance to mingle with her neighbors, too.

“I think that we just love watching people dancing, mingling and enjoying good food,” Ursula adds. “Doing this highlights the good in people. Folks who come to the blues festival are coming with a great frame of mind, to have fun and enjoy great local musicians who have cultivated the meaning of the blues.”

Volunteers receive a Baton Rouge Blues Festival t-shirt and are invited to attend a post-festival thank you party. To find out more, go the festival’s volunteer sign-up page.

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