Ever been interested in attending an event but wasn’t sure the cost would be worth it? Maybe it cost too much. Or maybe you were going for the first time but don’t like travelling alone and didn’t have anybody to go with. I’ve been there, too – a number of times…
A few years ago I discovered Steampunk. Actually, I’ve always loved Steampunk movies, books, artwork, and clothing (not to mention authentic Victorian architecture and décor) but just never realized that there was a special name for it. There is actually a whole genre covering the style. Who knew?
I started digging around the internet for more on the Steampunk movement and found out that there is an annual convention near my home called The Steampunk World’s Fair. It’s billed as the greatest and largest Steampunk-themed festival in the world.
I was intrigued, but having never been to one of these before and not being the kind of guy who goes full-tilt dressing in costume I was hesitant to pay the notable admission fees (note: you can purchase tickets for either a single day or the full weekend and VIP events during the weekend require an extra fee). What to do? What to do?
I noticed that they were looking for volunteers so I applied. My father had owned a themed event production company so I am very comfortable working behind the scenes and handling event logistics. My background must have impressed the SWF staff because they accepted me almost immediately.
It was great! I worked on the set-up crew and shuttled a guest speaker – noted author O.M. Grey – from the airport and to/from the hotels. While I was there I also volunteered to handle line security for the headlining band Steam Powered Giraffe. That got me into the concert without waiting in the long line or fighting for a seat.
The normal volunteer shifts were only 4 hours long but allowed me to get a real sense of what’s what in the world of Steampunk without a heavy financial commitment. Since the shifts were so short and we were free to enjoy the rest of the festival on our off-time volunteers were still required to pay for admission but at a very reduced rate (I think I paid only $10 or $20 for the full weekend, as opposed to $80 for those paying at the door). I think it was worth it, so I volunteered again last year and will be back there again in 2 weeks for another go.
Enthused by the experience I’ve since volunteered at many other events. Some of them resulted in me getting free admission while others were already no-admission events, but volunteering at free programs still has its perks:
- Entry into rooms/venues that were otherwise full
- No waiting in line
- Working alongside authors and musicians
- Preferred parking
- Free food
- Meeting new and interesting people with shared interests
- Free swag
- A unique view “behind the curtains”
So the next time you come across an interesting event that’s expensive, sold-out, etc. just do what I do and volunteer. 🙂